1. WHAT WE LEARNED

The Saints are not to be trusted. A week after doing so many things right and dominating much of the game on the road against a quality Pittsburgh Steelers team, the Saints came back and suffered what may stand as their worst home loss in the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era. Compounding the confusion is the fact the Saints were routed by a Carolina team that was 0-6-1 over the last two months, including a 28-10 home loss to New Orleans on Oct. 30.

2. TRENDING NOW

Identifying what truly ails the Saints now joins Les Miles to Michigan speculation as Louisiana’s favorite holiday board games. If you believe the Saints have a good head coach in place with Payton and have talented players like Brees and Jimmy Graham and Cam Jordan, the problem has to be more internal than physical. Payton and his players talked about the need for more and better leadership in the locker room. Apparently there is a problem in there that keeps short-circuting the Saints.

3. FINAL THOUGHTS

The good news is the Saints can still be essentially tied for first in the NFC South if Atlanta loses Monday night at Green Bay. The bad news for New Orleans is even the prospect of a division title and a berth in the playoffs doesn’t hide the fact that the Saints are a deeply flawed team. When you look at this loss set against a win over a team like Green Bay, it’s hard to figure out how the Saints are the same team. Knowing which Saints team will show up next Monday night in Chicago is guesswork.

-- Scott Rabalais