The New Orleans Saints lead the NFC South. But they're vulnerable after a rough Sunday.
The Saints lost to the Minnesota Vikings and the loss may linger a while. Quarterback Derek Carr is in the concussion protocol. Then there were two other key injuries that affect the offense and defense.
Receiver Michael Thomas and cornerback Marshon Lattimore both left Sunday's game, and head coach Dennis Allen said Monday they had "fairly significant" injuries. He wouldn't get into specifics but you'd have to assume they're in danger of missing time.
Thomas left Sunday's game with what was termed a knee injury. Lattimore had an ankle injury. Thomas is third on the Saints with 39 receptions and also third with 448 receiving yards. Lattimore is an excellent corner who has been to four Pro Bowls.
The Saints' bye week is coming at a very good time, especially for Carr.
Jameis Winston came in for Carr on Sunday and played fairly well, but he also threw two interceptions. That's always part of the Winston experience. Carr also had a shoulder injury but Allen said that was fine. The week off will give Carr a better chance to be cleared for the Saints' next game. The bye also gives Thomas and Lattimore more time to heal.
Nevertheless, it's not great news for a Saints team that has struggled to find any consistency. They lead the NFC South, but that's because the rest of the division isn't very good. The Saints are just 5-5. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are right behind at 4-5 and the Atlanta Falcons are still hanging around at 4-6.
The Saints are arguably the most talented team in the division but they haven't really shown it. A set of injuries after another disappointing loss creates another challenge in a tightening division race.