Jeff Duncan: Saints’ hot hand went cold in Vegas

Jeff Duncan: Saints’ hot hand went cold in Vegas
Alvin Kamara is stopped short of the goal line by Raiders defenders (Source: Edwin Goode, WVUE-FOX 8)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Safe to say, the Saints' weekend in Vegas did not go as expected. Their 34-24 loss to the Raiders was indeed ugly, as Alvin Kamara described it. It also was surprising, considering how good the Saints looked early on.

Jeff Duncan: Saints' hot hand went cold in Vegas

But as happens so often in Vegas, their hot hand quickly went cold, and the Raiders took them to the proverbial cleaners in every phase of the game. Most puzzling, some of the Saints' best players played like they’d spent the weekend hanging at the Rehab pool party. Drew Brees, Malcolm Jenkins, Cam Jordan and Ryan Ramczyk, among others, made costly mistakes at inopportune times. And the coaching staff’s game plan and in-game adjustments weren’t much better.

The Saints left Las Vegas like so many rubes before them: dismayed, discouraged and disillusioned.

They also left with some pressing questions: Was this ugly performance an anomaly? Or a sign of things to come? Is Drew Brees' slow start an indication that Father Time has finally caught up to him? Or are his anemic passing numbers simply a by-product of a limited body work and other issues on offense? Are the penalty problems in the secondary fixable? Or are they another Brandon Browner-like crisis?

Only time will tell if the Saints have the answers, but they need to start finding them fast.

The unbeaten Packers come to town on Sunday night. Green Bay has scored more than 40 points in back-to-back games and leads the NFL in total offense. The Packers and star quarterback Aaron Rodgers will pose a major challenge. They also represent a golden opportunity. The high-profile, prime-time matchup is a great chance for the Saints to, as they say in Vegas, get out of the hole and get whole again.

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