Saints head coach Sean Payton, since arriving in New Orleans, has done his best to help compartmentalize the long and grueling NFL season. One mental tool is to break the season down in two 4 quarters of games.

The Saints were 3-1 in the first set of four games. The second set of games, not so good as the Saints were 2-2 but needed a fourth quarter comeback in Carolina to pull out that game. In two of those games, St. Louis and Tampa Bay, the Saints played sloppy football, heck Payton calling his team flat last Sunday and this week gave this assessment of where his team currently is at the halfway point of the season.

That next stretch coach talks about is the 3rd set of four games, a stretch that will see the Saints play a pair of divisional games against Tampa, and at Atlanta, plus host NFC East leading New York and post season aspiring Detroit.

So at 5-3 are the Saints a disappointment in that perhaps they should have a better record? Saints quarterback Drew Brees answered that question this way this week...

An elite team. It's what Brees and the Saints not only strive to be but make no mistake it is and will be the goal for the Saints as long as number 9 quarterbacks the team and is led by Sean Payton. Winning Super Bowls is THE goal. Not winning Division Titles or simply making the post season.

Brees is often seen as an extension of head coach Sean Payton. One case in which they almost share a brain is in using the media to their advantage. This week each man seemed to almost be calling out the team, challenging if you will, just what type of team they were going to be this season. When asked if the Saints were an elite team, Brees surprised many in the media room with his response.

I truly believe we are about to find out if the Saints are legitimate contenders for a title this season or not. The team is facing many questions. Will the defense improve over the next half of the season? Can the offense find a consistent running game? Can the team stay up for games they are supposed to win?

We'll see how they respond Sunday against a Buccaneers team that is not afraid of the Saints, especially knowing they are getting back running back LeGarrette Blount and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, players that missed the team's 26-20 win in Tampa over the Saints.

Brees didn't mince words this week when asked if this was an important game for his team...

I do see the Saints coming out motivated and knowing what is at stake, pulling out another close game against Tampa Bay, 27-23.

Don't forget to catch the Saints and the Bucs at noon on Acadiana's Saints Station, 97.3 The Dawg.