METAIRIE — If they could, the New Orleans Saints would snap their fingers and turn their season completely around.
Presto! Just like that, their unsightly 2-5 record would become a 5-2 mark, and they would be back in the playoff chase as they approach the midway point of the season.
But as we all know, including the Saints themselves, that’s not going to happen.
As we’re so often reminded by the players and coaching staff, especially suspended coach Sean Payton, there are no shortcuts in the NFL.
When you’re 2-5, you can only hope your hard work and perseverance will somehow, some way, finally start to pay off and something good will come of the final nine games of the season.
With that in mind, the Saints go into a most important part of their schedule when they host the struggling Philadelphia Eagles on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
Coming off a disappointing 34-14 loss to the Denver Broncos in which they weren’t in the game after the midway point of the second quarter — when the Broncos scored 27 unanswered points to turn a tie game into a rout — the Saints need a boost in the worst way.
If they’re going to salvage anything from a season that went terribly wrong from the start, they’ll have to play well in November.
That’s the good news for the Saints, who play five games in 25 days in the month — meeting the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons twice as well as the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers following the game with the Eagles.
It’s not an easy stretch by any means for a 2-5 team even though the Eagles and Raiders have, like the Saints, losing records at this point.
While the past is the past and has nothing to do with this year’s team, the Saints can still hope to draw on the success they’ve had in November — posting a 17-6 record since Sean Payton’s first season in 2006.
What’s more, the Saints have won 11 consecutive games in November, which dates to a strong 5-0 run in 2009 that helped fuel their magical run to the title in Super Bowl XLIV.
The highlights of that 2009 run were two Monday night wins in which they beat the Falcons 35-27 and steamrolled the New England Patriots 38-17.
After that, they went 3-0 in 2010 and again last season, and overall have won 13 of their past 14 overall games in the month.
Their last loss in November came on Nov. 30, 2008 when they dropped a 23-20 decision to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what turned out to be Jon Gruden’s final win as the Bucs’ coach.
If the Saints themselves weren’t aware that they have played extremely well in November and won 11 straight games, interim coach Joe Vitt certainly reminded them of it when they returned to work Thursday to begin preparing for the Eagles.
Most people will say that it’s not much. But at this point, it’s all they have to look forward to.
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