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5 questions with the Saints

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This week for our "5 questions" segment, we have Sunil from Canal Street Chronicles, to talk all things Saints ahead of this weekend's matchup. You can find my answers to his questions over there.

BGN - So first off, the obvious question with the Saints this year has been their inconsistency. 4 losses to start the year, followed by 4 wins, then you lose 3 of 4, now you've won 2 in row... Why has this team been so up and down?

I'm not sure the coaches even know why they've been so bad. They will look like the best team in the league one week -- like when the destroyed Jacksonville -- then lose to the 0-8 Rams the next week. They lost a game because their kicker couldn't hit a 20-yard field goal. Their coach picked a terrible time -- killing the clock in a game against the first place team -- for his worst play call of his career.

It's just been one of those seasons, I guess.

I think we've all been impressed by some of the highlight reel plays we've seen from Reggie Bush in his short NFL career, but then we've also been hearing about some of his problems. Sean Payton even went so far as to call his season a "disappointment." What are your feelings about where Bush is now and what you think he can do in the future?

When Bush was healthy and featured -- for five games -- these were his numbers: 4.21 yards per carry, 70.8 rushing yards per game, 112.2 total yards per game. In other words, he was a pretty good back. I'd like to see him get a full season of starting before I condemn him to (Eric) Metcalf-ville.

That said, Reggie is quick and fast enough that he can put on some muscle at the expense of some of his speed. He reminds me of Clinton Portis when he came into the league. Portis bulked up, lost some of his top-end speed, but is still fast enough. And what he's gained in strength and durability more than makes up for what he lost.

 The Saints defense has struggled at times this year. They've given up a lot of yardage and it seems when you guys lose it's because the other team has scored 30 or 40 points. There are obviously some solid players on that unit, but where are the weaknesses that are allowing these huge scores?

If they can't generate pressure with their front four, they are in for a long day. Their secondary isn't good enough to put them on an island all day, particularly Jason David. Gary Gibbs is getting better at picking his spots for the blitz, and their front four can protect. But if the Eagles shut down Charles Grant and Will Smith, it could be trouble.

Funny, it sounds like he's talking about the Eagles... shut down their pass rush and you're in good shape!

All the news this weekend seems to be focused on whether Reggie Bush will play or not, but with the things Aaron Stecker has done does it even matter?

The Saints' line is really good at run blocking up the middle, poor on the peripheries. Stecker is much more of a straight-ahead runner, so in some ways, he fits with the line's strengths.

Reggie, on the other hand, is such a good athlete that you want to put him in space, singled up on a defender. The Saints' line hasn't run those plays well this season.

I actually want to see both of them featured the way the Saints used Deuce McAllister and Reggie last year, often at the same time. I think that could be the best recipe for success.

If not, sit Reggie and play Stecker. There's too much at stake and the team is obviously executing.

The Saints are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but they need to win out and get some help. If you had to bet on it, can they get into the postseason for the second straight year?

Well, I work for a New York sports-media outlet, so I spend a lot of time editing stories about how the Giants won't make the playoffs. If they fall off, the Saints are next in line. I don't know if that counts for anything.

As a fan, I think they can pull this off. As a realist, I see that they must jump teams. I would give them about a 35 percent of making it, since they must jump either the Giants, who have a two-game advantage, or the Vikings, who are playing ridiculously well and have a one-game advantage.

Bonus - No pro bowlers from the NFC South whatsoever?

Yeah, what's the deal with that? The Saints' offense and Panthers' defense are probably the closest to name-brand units in the division. For them not to get anybody in based on that is appalling.

The biggest snub in the division, though, may be Barrett Ruud in Tampa. He affects games like few other linebackers right now. Defenses must gameplan for him; he's the heart of the best defense in the conference - and it's not close, they lead in points and yardage - Barrett Ruud definitely deserves a berth.

Barret Ruud by the way, is the reason Jeremiah Trotter hasn't played in Tampa...

Much thanks to Sunil from Canal Street Chronicles and be sure to check out his site for his thoughts and leading up to this weekend.