In the 2-5 New Orleans Saints' first and only Monday Night Football appearance of 2012, tonight they will take on the 3-4 Philadelphia Eagles. With both teams facing an uphill battle for the playoffs in the second half of the season, it is shaping up as a must-win situation for the squads.
Since there is so much on the line, I have dug down deep to come up with an absolutely clutch set of Hot Reads to start off your Gameday morning.
Primary Option - PROTECT BREES
We all know, especially after last week's game, that Drew Brees MUST have a good game for the Saints to even have a ghost of a chance to win (and I have NO IDEA why I didn't think of this turn of phrase for Halloween's Hot Reads last week). Brees has NO HOPE of having a good game if the PROTECTION isn't there. As it just so happens, the time is ripe for a great performance by the o-line, as the Eagles don't have much of a pass rush (second to last in the league in sacks!! Worse than the Saints, even!!).
What I'd Like To See: Zero sacks and two or less quarterback hits, while Brees has a clean pocket, clear passing lanes, and time to let the long routes develop when needed.
Checkdown # 1 - VICTIMIZE VICK
While not as electrifying as the pre-incarceration Michael Vick, the Eagles' quarterback still has plenty of big-play potential, which is something that makes me weak in the knees (and not in a good way) when I think about the Saints' defense trying to stop him. He's had trouble holding onto the ball this year, and I believe that if they can make him uncomfortable early, he'll feel like a victim by the end of the night.
What I'd Like To See: A strict policy of containment enforced on Vick, limiting his long runs and passes to no more than three of 15 yards or more, especially on third down. At least two Vick turnovers will be required to carry this out to success.
Checkdown # 2 - SPECIAL APPEARANCE BY THE SPECIAL TEAMS
At this point in the season, we know what the offense is and can do, and we know what the defense is and what they can't do. I am tired of asking the offense to play a perfect game, and tired of asking the defense to not be terrible. We have not really paid much attention to the special teams, so I'm going to try asking them to save the day this time.
What I'd Like To See: Some kind of something in the scoring column from the special teams. This could take the form of a kick return touchdown, a blocked kick touchdown, or a fake kick touchdown (roxy-roxy!!! as my Dad calls a trick kick play).
Safety Valve - SUPERDOME OF DOOM
The Saints completely stunk up the joint in their last prime time game, so it's time for a raucous home crowd to take it to the next level for Monday Night Football and signal a return to prime time dominance. They must turn our stadium into a black hole for the visiting Eagles, where their dreams of victory come to die.
What I'd Like To See: From the moment the Eagle offense steps on the field until they leave the field with their heads hanging in shame at their crappy performance, I want the crowd on their feet, stomping, screaming, waving, and banging the walls. This will cause much pre-snap confusion, leading to false starts, timeouts taken early and often until they run out, delays of game, and maybe even some bad snaps.