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John DeShazier: Key takeaways from Coach Sean Payton's Monday teleconference

Saints still in division mix

Check out the Saints in action against the Chiefs in Week 7.

A few high points from New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton's Monday teleconference:

  1. One of the first goals for any playoff aspirant team is to win its division title. The Saints, despite their 2-4 record, are in the fight for the NFC South. Atlanta (4-3) leads the division and Tampa Bay (3-3) is in second place, with Carolina (1-5) bringing up the rear. It's a fact that Payton found worth mentioning to his team Monday morning. "Just coming out of the team meeting, before we even got started on the things that we need to clean up from the game we just played – once in a while, 'Hey, this is where the division is at, here it is, just understand it,' " he said. "Now, somebody's going to separate themselves, and Atlanta has gotten off to a good start. (Then you address), 'Now, here are the things that are keeping us from winning the game we just played.' Because we did a handful of things well. Defensively, I think it was one of our better games, against a pretty good offense. There were a couple of explosive plays in there, a third-and-long, a personal foul and yet, there were a lot of positives."
  1. Both of the Saints' victories, and three of their four losses, have been by six points or less. The line is thin between disappointment over defeat, and optimism over being a couple of plays away from victory. "The easy answer is, I think you have to be brutally honest with your team," Payton said. "I've said this – our margin for error is different with this team. We're going to play in these close games. You're going to bat .500 if you're making the same type of mistakes, you'll win one or two and then lose one or two. In order to win a little bit more of them than you lose, there are some things that we've got to be better at, that we've got to clean up."
  1. Nearness to victory potentially can lead players to overreach, and attempt to do more than fulfill their job requirement. So far, that doesn't appear to have happened with the Saints, but that obviously doesn't mean they're mistake-free. "I feel like guys are working hard," Payton said. "There are some young mistakes that are being made and then there are some ones that I would say are more along the lines of dumb mistakes that are being made. But that all being said, I think their eagerness to learn and wanting to get the corrections made, I think that's been outstanding."
  1. The last three times the Saints have played Seattle, Sunday's opponent in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, have been on the road. All three games have been losses, including twice in the playoffs, so having the Seahawks (4-1-1) in New Orleans is a nice change for the Saints. Seattle has made CenturyLink Field is one of the league's toughest venues. "No. 1, it's a real good football team. So when you play a real good team in a venue like that, it's challenging. They play extremely well at home. I think the challenge still is they're a real good football team and we're going to have to do a lot of things better than we did (Sunday) to have a chance of being in this game."
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