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Sean Payton’s Saints are one of the NFL’s best teams after a bye week

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There are many reasons for optimism during the New Orleans Saints bye week. The team is getting healthy at the right time with as many as eight different starters working their way back from injuries. Their schedule is set up to face a Seattle Seahawks team without Russell Wilson and a vulnerable Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad missing most of its starting secondary. And they’ve got the benefit of a bye week to pore over five games of tape and self-scout before regrouping.

It’s familiar territory for Sean Payton and his coaching staff. The Saints have been one of the NFL’s most successful teams after a bye week ever since he was hired; they’re one of eight teams to win more than 66% of their games after a bye since 2006. New Orleans is 12-6 after a bye in that span and 4-1 since 2017, even if their average margin of victory isn’t great (4.5 since 2006, and 1.4 since 2017).

So that should give us some pause. A history of success isn’t predictive — just look at how the Saints’ 15-game October win streak was snapped in Week 4 against the New York Giants. And it’s not like the Saints have come out of the bye week dominating games with their hair on fire. The biggest reason they’ve had such a great post-bye winning percentage is that they’ve played great football ever since Payton came to town. The 4.9% jump from his all-time winning percentage to the post-bye mark ranks 17th in the NFL since 2006, which is close to league average (4.4%).

Still, fans should have some confidence that Payton and his crew know what they’re doing. Getting their best players back to a roster that’s already beaten some expectations has to be encouraging. The fact that they’ve been here before and can point to almost two decades of success is reassuring. As with everything else we’ve got to see it to believe it, but there’s reason to keep faith in the Saints as they chase a playoff seed.

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