Coming off a bye week, the Saints face a daunting task when they return to the playing field Sunday for the first time since a 20-17 loss to the Chicago Bears on Nov. 6.
The Saints (2-7) have dropped five games in a row and seven of their last eight following a season-opening victory over the Carolina Panthers. The chances of ending the skid this weekend aren't good as they face the two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots on the road.
While their hopes of reaching the playoffs have faded with each loss, the Saints remain optimistic after recharging their batteries with a weekend off for the first time since early September.
The time away not only helped them lick their wounds, it had them looking forward to the game with the Patriots (5-4). The Saints, who were plagued by turnovers and penalties in the first nine games, feel like they need one win to get back on track.
"Yeah, one win ... get that feeling (back)," left tackle Wayne Gandy said. "Then the next thing you know, you might win three in a row just from that one win - especially against a team like this. Hopefully, this bye kind of broke the chain. You hope it gives you that little energy."
The Saints, who won their final four games last season to finish 8-8, know all it takes is one game - even if it is against a team that has won three of the last four Super Bowls.
Reserve running back and special teams standout Fred McAfee said the Saints can draw some inspiration from the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers, who scored big upsets last week on the road at the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons, respectively.
"There's always that game - you seen Minnesota, you seen Green Bay - there's always that game," McAfee said. "We've been very close the last few weeks. I'm talking about close. We had opportunities to win some games, and we let them slip through our hands.
"We still want to have that resolve, that hey, you're going to turn it around, you're going to change whatever was going wrong," he said.
Playing well against the Patriots, especially after some poor offensive performances just prior to the break, would be a great place to start.
That's about all coach Jim Haslett can ask of his team. Haslett knows the Saints, who have lost several winnable games, likely will have to run the table just to stay in the playoff picture.
"We have to win them all," Haslett said last week. "Is it possible? I'd just like to get one win right now. Obviously, the team we open up with after the bye week will not be an easy one."