Wow, what a victory last night! The Saints have played well under pressure, amid adversity, and under the big spotlight several times now. That's an excellent thing to have on your resume. We won without Shockey, PT, Sharper, and with Reggie rusty and in a funk and doing more damage than good. Others were banged up. But we won.
Now, (inevitable comparison to last year) I was 100% sure we would go to the Super Bowl in 09.. This year, even in the tough times, I have been 100% sure we would make the playoffs. As far as making it to the Super Bowl this year - well I was a ...maybe a ...possibly. But, I never envisioned our defense playing so well this season- I thought they would be improved, but not as much as I am seeing. So I am vastly encouraged. I know they had a kind of bad 2nd half yesterday, but I think the offense's turnovers had much to do with it. They had a GREAT first half. And the Miles Austin reverse, if you take that away, it could be a whole different 2nd half. Where were the refs on that play? I mean, I don't think I've ever seen a hold where it starts to be an offensive player holding a defender's jersey in the front and then continues OVER HIS SHOULDER to be a hold on the defender's jersey from the rear as the defender turns around !! And, it was right NEXT to Austin as he raced by!!! PS- D forced 7 fumbles yesterday. Well, maybe not forced ALL of them, but you know what I mean. A team that fumbles that many times (ala Vikings NFC Champuionship game last year) doesn't deserve to win.
But, the main reason I am now so optimistic that we can get back to the Super Bowl is how we compare to the competition coupled with our ability to raise the level of our game. Here's my 2 minute breakdown.
Atlanta- very good team. Even QBs such as Marino, Elway, the Mannings, Brees, Montana, Young etc have a bad game. Ryan hasn't. He can't play lights out for all 16 games and playoffs. He's too inexperienced for defenses NOT to come up with something to get at him. Everyone is watching tape of Ryan now. It will pay off. On top of that they are a good or even a very good team. Not a great one. They can be beat- you just have to be prepared to make last minute field goals (FPK) as they don't get involved in shoot outs and they don't turn the ball over.
Ryan will stumble, the Falcons will stumble. Probably not tumble, not in a severe manner, but just enough to give us an opening and then we must beat them.
Green Bay- good team, but Aaron Rodgers has to prove he can win big games. Sorry, beating Favre and a lousy Viking team in disarray with Chilly as coach isn't really a big game. Green Bay really doesn't scare anyone once they leave Lambeau and even at home they are not really scary good. Their offense is balanced, but not exceptional at running or passing. Good defense, but I think our offense can score vs any defense. ANY. But, either way, they won't be formidable especially if they come to NOLA or another dome. Saints at Lambeau in the playoffs- that could be a different story. Let's skip that.
Giants- good team- somewhat in disarray. Epitome of inconsistency. Inconsistent teams don't go to the Super Bowl- especially inconsistent teams in Nov- Dec. What I like about the situation with the Giants is they are beat up and will beat up and get beaten up more in their games vs. Phila and Dallas (and at GB and at Minn) . Lots of very physical football ahead of them. Ditto for Eagles getting beat up in their games. NFC East and NFC North clashes seem to be very physical matchups. Clearly not finesse matchups. Giants are banged up already especially at OL- Shawn Andrews just went to hopspital with back pain and has been battling all season in regards to the two back surgeries he's had. Sean Ohare injured and out also. They are their two best OL guys. OL depth is a big issue for them. You can only go as far as the health of your OL will take you. Defense can keep you close, but if the OL is hurtin', the team's hurtin'.
Eagles- good team playing well. A little scary at times with Vick running. Hopefully a big setback is in store this weekend vs. Bears. But, even if they win they are hurting at depth, especially defensive secondary. Hobbs is gone, Assante Samuel is beat up. Teams will try to run over Samuel and make him attempt to make tackles because he can't tackle even when he is healthy. Too small and fragile although he can make picks. Expect his vulnerability to be exposed. At safety they are beat up, not very talented, not very deep and not very experienced. It wil show down the stretch. They live by the blitz and disguise the weakness with many blitzes but if they can't blitz or the QB can take advantage of blitz's, they will pay. To win Vick has to run the ball. Phila O-line is not one of the best. Vick will take MANY hits more down the stretch. He will HAVE to run. Teams with running QBs have never won SBs before. They will play Dallas twice and Dallas' main mission will be to inflict pain because of the ongoing hatred. Dallas has nothing to play for except highlights and pride. Expect there to be a lot of physicality and also there is Phila vs Bears and vs Giants.
But, my main reason for the Eagles to not go to the Super Bowl is good triumphs over evil. Vick won't get there. It's not the right ending. Even if the Saints don't get there ( and I think they will) Rodgers, Manning, Ryan, etc are good guys. Vick is not. Talented- yes, good guy- no. He won't hold the Lombardi- he needs to pay the piper some more- maybe a lot more. He hasn't been out of jail long enough and hasn't paid his dues long enough to be a champion. It just won't happen.
If you say that's not rational, I may have to agree with you. But, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Have I forgotten anyone? Well, for the record, I don't think any other NFC team is for real, including Tampa and Chicago. I'm rooting for Chicago this week, but I don't think they are that good. I am really not sure if their QB is Cutler, Orton or Grossman. Aren't they really just the same guy that changes jerseys occaisonally? ? Not impressed with their QB- if I was I would know more about him. Tampa Bay...meh....Come talk to me if they win in Baltimore. I will be all ears then. NFC West should get a bye from this year's playoffs entirely.
We need to get home field advantage- top seed preferable and second seed at the least and I think it's achieveable. We know we can beat anyone in the NFC (or the NFL) if we play like we can.
Again, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.......