It's time for another all-too-conflicting round of 'Good News, Bad News', and hereeeee we gooooo!
Bad news first, you say? Great choice!
Well, I suppose it just had to be this way. That's not to say that the emotional leader of the Saints defense couldn't have potentially (this is only an investigation, after all) found a more legal way to stay focused than popping study pills, but it is to say that the righted ship was sailing along far too smoothly not to suspect some turbulent waters were ahead. Winning 4 out of 5 games? The best defensive back on the team and their first round draft pick returning to action after injuries that cost them the first half of their season? That's simply wayyyy too much positivity and optimism not to brace for impending disappointment, and there's nothing more disappointing than losing an intimidating presence that rallied the rest of the troops while damn near half the front line was tending to injuries. Anyway you slice it, not having Kenny Vaccaro available for 4 games during the heart of the season - for a completely avoidable reason - sucks...badly.
The good news?
I completely realize that this is a shortsighted way to look at things, but - as far as I am concerned - the season rides on Sunday's game. That's not just some "the most important game is the next one" rhetoric either. You want precedence?
The last two years the Saints have battled all the back from horrific starts to get to 4-4 at the halfway mark. Sound familiar? Both times they followed that up with depressing home efforts against teams that had no business beating them before they embarked on sizable losing streaks. Sound familiar? I know the 2016 Broncos might not be as hapless as the 2014 49er's or the 2015 Titans, but they have a young starting quarterback who has had his struggles and an extremely depleted secondary. Long story short, they are prime for the taking. Win Sunday - with Vaccaro in the lineup - and that seemingly annual mid-season disappointment is a thing of the past. It doesn't mean this team is making the playoffs, but it's a huge step in the right direction. A step so big, in fact , that it could give them the confidence to handle the Panthers, the Rams, the Lions, and the Bucs even if their starting strong safety were to have to sit out the duration of those games. Numerically speaking, the Saints have played thee most difficult schedule in the entire league to this point. Getting one more huge win before losing a key piece of their (sometimes) average defense for the light(er) part of their schedule could do wonders. If not, well, buckle the fuck up....