1 WHAT WE LEARNED

The Saints aren’t going to go on a miracle run and find a way to make the playoffs. Unless the rest of the NFL goes in the tank and the Saints win the rest of their games, the hopes of playing beyond Week 17 are over. This is a flawed team. The offense isn’t as good as its rankings entering this game, and the defense has a long way to go to become a solid unit. It would have been nice if new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen cured all the woes, but many of the issues we’ve seen all season were on display Sunday. It’s time to look for incremental growth and think about the future.

2 TRENDING NOW

The only things trending now are trending down. Really, there weren’t many positives to take out of this performance. One of the more maddening aspects of this team is that there have been only rare occasions when both sides of the ball show up at the same time. The thing that sunk the Saints is the defense came out slow to start both halves of the game. But even if the defense put forth a staunch performance, the offense didn’t have enough to make it matter. It’s disappointing because this defense was supposed to be much improved this season, but the conversation never seems to change.

3 FINAL THOUGHTS

There are still five weeks to go. Depending on your point of view, that’s either a good thing or an insufferable reality. The difference between this season and last season is that hope never died until the final week of the season. It’s gone now. There’s nothing left to play for but pride. Many will hope the team starts tanking games to improve its draft stock, but that is unlikely to happen. All you can do now is hope for growth from the young players, see how Allen improves this defense, and pray no one suffers a major injury along the way.

— Nick Underhill