Below are five positives, and also five negatives, to take from the New Orleans Saints’ 31-24 home win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday afternoon.

The triumph moved the Saints to 7-8 on the season, with one game remaining in their 2016 season.


1)—Drew Brees: After a subpar game in the first contest against Tampa Bay two weeks ago, one in which he threw no touchdowns, with three interceptions, Brees responded against the Bucs on Saturday, completing 23-of-34 passes for 2999 yards, to go along with a touchdown and no interceptions. When Brees doesn’t play up to his normal level of excellence, the Saints tend to lose, as they did to the Buccaneers two weeks ago; but when he plays the way he did Saturday, they can be hard to beat.

2)—Michael Thomas: As he has been all year, Thomas was really good on Saturday, catching 6 passes for 98 yards, including a 46 yard reception, for an average of over 16 yards-per-catch.

3)—Running Backs: Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower, combined, carried the ball 26 times for 119 yards and two scores. Add the touchdown receptions by Travaris Cadet, and that kind of production by your running backs will win you a lot of football games.

4)—Jairus Byrd: He had six tackles, including one for a loss, and two interceptions. It's very possible Byrd may only play one more game in a New Orleans uniform, but if it is, let's just hope it's as good as this one.

5)—Offensive Line: Yes, Brees was sacked two times, but the patch-work offensive line still provided him enough time so that he could throw for 299 yards. They also opened a number of holes for the running backs, who finished with 122 rushing yards. Considering the injuries, along with the production they gave on Saturday, against a quality defense, I thought the offensive line played about as well as could be realistically expected. This group has been better than expected this year, and they deserve props.


1)—Third Down Efficiency: The Saints came in tops in the NFL in third down efficiency, but finished only 5-of-12 on Saturday, while allowing Tampa Bay to go 7-of-12. Yes, they won, and that's the most important thing, but they weren't as good on third down as they have been most of the year.

2)—Brandin Cooks: Cooks had a good game, from a statistical standpoint, with 5 catches for 98 yards, but he dropped two passes, including one that could have kept a drive alive inside the Bucs' 10-yard line. Instead, the Saints had to settle for a field goal.

3)—Secondary: You have to take into account that the Saints were really playing without their two starting corners, in Delvin Breaux and P.J. Williams, on Saturday, as they've been most of the year. That being said, Jameis Winston threw for 277 yards, and there were just too many open receivers. This group has to play better on Sunday against Atlanta, otherwise the Saints could be in trouble.

4)—Willie Snead: The normally sure-handed Snead dropped a pass, and was held to two catches for 21 yards. You have to give him a pass, as he's been so reliable all season, but he's had much better games.

5)—Eliminated From Playoff Contention: Despite the win on Saturday, the Saints were eliminated from playoff contention, making it three-consecutive seasons, including four of the last five, that they fail to qualify for the postseason. What makes it so frustrating, is that they lost so many close games, and could easily be 9-6, or even 10-5 right now, and preparing for the playoffs.