New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees’ injury makes the NFC South race wide open

The Saints cannot afford for Drew Brees to miss significant time. If he does, every team in the NFC South still has a chance to win the division. 

For years, Drew Brees has led a high-powered Saints offense that has kept New Orleans near or at the top of the NFC Standings. If the veteran quarterback is forced to miss a significant portion of this season due to the thumb injury he suffered against the Rams on Sunday, it could send the Saints to the bottom of their division standings.

New Orleans fans looking for good news after the game were disappointed by Brees’ comments. He revealed that he’s set to see a hand specialist in Los Angeles later on Sunday and admitted to being “concerned” about the status of his injured thumb. Various reports claim Brees was struggling to effectively grip a football in the wake of Aaron Donald’s hit.

The good news for Sean Payton and his staff is that they do have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t able to lead his team to a comeback victory against the Rams this week, but he is at least a serviceable starting signal caller. The Saints offense won’t suddenly become inept with Bridgewater at the helm.

The challenge for the Saints is that they need their offense to be special if they are going to rack up double-digit wins. Bridgewater will struggle to meet that high standard. For this offense to be good enough to carry the team, it needs Brees firing on all cylinders.

While Brees’ injury has cast a pall over New Orleans, it’s brightened the moods of other teams around the NFC South. The division has struggled mightily to start the season, but the team that emerges as the winner of the group will make the playoffs no matter what their final record happens to be.

The Falcons suffered an ugly Week 1 loss to the Vikings, but they have a chance to even their record if they can topple the Eagles at home in Week 2. Matt Ryan and company will certainly fancy their chances of outscoring the Saints if Brees isn’t healthy. Atlanta likely becomes the division favorite if the former Purdue star misses significant time.

Even the Panthers and Buccaneers will feel invigorated about their own playoff chances if Brees is put on ice. Tampa Bay scored a big win at Carolina on Thursday to get their record back to 1-1. Despite all the noise about Jameis Winston’s struggles, the Bucs will find themselves in a tie atop the division when Week 2 ends.

The Panthers will enter Week 3 in last place in the division, but they will only be one game out of first place. With Cam Newton at the helm it’s easy to make a case that the Panthers become the most dynamic team in the NFC South if Brees is on the sidelines. That’s certainly the message Ron Rivera will try to send to his team this week.

Next: The Giants are going to keep tanking

No true NFL fan wants to see Drew Brees suffer a serious injury, but that may have happened against everyone’s best wishes on Sunday. If he did, he’s turned the NFC South into the most interesting division race in football.

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