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At 41 years old, Drew Brees doesn’t have time on his side. Unfortunately for the New Orleans Saints, they may have to wait a while for their star quarterback to return.

With the future Hall of Famer dealing with serious injuries, that puts the spotlight on Jameis Winston. Can the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback keep the Saints atop the NFC South while Brees heals up? Or will the former No. 1 pick fail to take advantage of a major opportunity in New Orleans?

Drew Brees got hurt in Sunday’s win against the 49ers

Despite being one of the oldest players in the NFL, Drew Brees has shown no signs of slowing down. The 13-time Pro Bowler has continued to put up prolific passing numbers this season despite not having his best weapon available for most of the year.

With a chance to extend their winning streak to six games, the Saints faced a banged-up 49ers team coming off three straight losses. While New Orleans earned its seventh win of the season, Sunday turned out to be a brutal day at the office for Brees.

After completing eight passes for 76 yards and one touchdown in the first half, he did not return to the game because he reportedly had difficulty breathing. Jameis Winston filled in and led the Saints to a 27-13 victory.

Initially, it sounded like Brees had just fractured a few ribs and could seemingly return sooner than later. But on Tuesday, his injury situation took an ominous turn.

His injury situation just took an ominous turn

On Monday, Ed Werder of ESPN delivered a more detailed update about Drew Brees’ injury situation. A source told Werder that the Saints QB has multiple rib fractures on both sides of his chest. Brees also has a collapsed lung on his right side.

He reportedly sustained two broken ribs on his right side in Sunday’s game against the 49ers. He has three fractured ribs on his left side that likely occurred against the Buccaneers in Week 9.

However, on Tuesday, Werder provided a follow-up on Brees’ injury that sounds ominous.

“The scans showed five definite rib fractures but a source mentioned the possibility there might be even more,” Werder reported via Twitter. “The opinion of additional doctors will help decide whether Brees should be placed on injured-reserve, a designation that would result in him missing at least three games.”

Given his age and the timing of his injury, it certainly sounds like Brees’ NFL future hangs in the balance. If he lands on IR, that would represent a brutal blow to the Saints’ Super Bowl hopes.

After all, going from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time to Jameis Winston represents a major downgrade at the most important position in football.

Can Jameis Winston keep the Saints atop the NFC South?

Whether Drew Brees goes on IR or not, it sounds like he won’t be back on the field anytime soon. Now, the Saints will turn to a former foe as their starting quarterback.

Jameis Winston takes over an offense that ranks fourth in the league in scoring. He will have Michael Thomas at his disposal, as well as MVP candidate Alvin Kamara. Plus, Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook give him two more veteran pass-catchers to target.

It will be interesting to see if Winston can avoid the same mistakes that led the Buccaneers to let him walk this offseason. In his final season in Tampa, the former FSU star threw a league-high 30 interceptions. He won’t remain QB1 for long if he starts turning the ball over in New Orleans.

Luckily for Winston, the Saints’ next two opponents are dismal on the defensive side of the ball. The Atlanta Falcons rank 25th in points allowed (27.9 per game). The Denver Broncos have actually been worse, as they’ve surrendered 28.2 points per game.

If Winston plays turnover-free football, the Saints should have no trouble pushing their winning streak to nine games. And if Brees can come back at full strength to a team that’s still in first place, that will represent a massive win for New Orleans.

All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.


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