AFR: Best & Worst of Saints at halfway mark

AFR: Best & Worst of Saints at halfway mark

We've reached the midway point for the Saints and there's no denying this team is playing better. At 4-4, the Saints have clawed their way back with a chance to take a giant step forward in the second half of the season.

Above all else, there's a feeling that this team has figured themselves out. They seem to have a better grasp of who they are and who they are not.

With that in mind here are my first half highlights and lowlights:

Offensive MVP

Drew Brees

It's funny how a conversation can transform over a few short weeks. When Drew Brees was hurt, immediately many began to wonder where Brees he will play next season. Now, I'm wondering where the Saints would be without Brees this season. His game last week against New York was one of the best of his remarkable career.

Ultimately, those that thought Brees' best days were behind him are dead wrong. He's still playing at a very high level and if the Saints are able to completely turn their season around it will be Brees leading the charge.

Honorable Mention: Terron Armstead

Defensive MVP

Cam Jordan

At times Jordan has been unblockable this season. He's also shown great versatility with his effectiveness inside. He is seventh in the league with six sacks and has shown he's worth that extension he signed this offseason.

Honorable Mention: Delvin Breaux

Biggest surprise

Delvin Breaux

Too easy. No one saw this coming. Breaux was supposed to be a feel-good story, not the team's best defensive back. But that's exactly what he has become and one can easily make the case that he is the defensive MVP for the first half of the season. What an addition Breaux has been to the Saints in 2015.

Honorable Mention: Ben Watson, Willie Snead.

Biggest disappointment

Brandon Browner

Browner has not had the type of impact the Saints thought he would when they signed him, at least on the field. The bullseye on his back from referees is very real. With so many penalties and a quick fuse from officials, I wonder how long the Saints can truly leave Browner out there given how much attention he has drawn. At some point, it could become costly. With Keenan Lewis getting closer to a hundred percent, it wouldn't shock me to see Browner's snaps diminish in the second half of the season.

Most impressive rookie

Hau'Oli Kikaha

Tough call. Both Kikaha and Stephone Anthony have made a tremendous impact in the first half of their rookie seasons. Kikaha gets the nod for being slightly more consistent at the beginning of the season. He's second on the team in sacks (4), fourth on the team in tackles (38) and leads the team in forced fumbles (3).

Honorable Mention: Stephone Anthony

Best Win

Week 6 vs Atlanta

Beating Atlanta just four days after getting pummeled on the road in Philadelphia has been the turning point of the season thus far. A loss there and the season is done. 1-5 would have been insurmountable to overcome. Plus, the pure emotion from the night (primetime, blocked punt) seemed to really galvanize the team and spark them on their three-game win streak.

Worst Loss

Week 2 vs Tampa Bay

As I look back on the entire first half of the season, the loss to Tampa Bay at home in week two was really the only game I truly expected the Saints to win.  In every other defeat, there were sound logical reason for the Saints to go down.  The Saints were and still are a better team than Tampa Bay and should have. Of course, it didn't help that Brees was clearly playing most of that game injured.

2nd half outlook

The reality is this: at 4-4 the Saints aren't completely back. However, they are in a good position to get where they want to be. Not only do they have some very favorable games to close out this month, they also have the rest of their NFC South slate to close out the season with home games against Detroit and Jacksonville mixed in.

Bottom line, the opportunity is there for this team to make a run.