I know you've thought about it; don't even try to lie. No need to feel ashamed, though, those thoughts are natural for a person your age to be having. Every fan of an undefeated NFL team right now is wondering whether their guys have what it takes to keep that momentum and remain undefeated all season long. As Saints fans, that means we too get to contemplate the possibility of perfection. Sure, it might be a little presumptuous and ridiculously unrealistic but what the hell is the point of basking in the glow of winning big if you're not gonna have a little fun with it. I think we've earned that right.
So how to tell whether the Saints can keep this dream alive? We can't envision the future and it would be pointless to just speculate. Instead, I thought the more accurate predictor would be to compare the Saints so far with the only team ever to complete a regular season undefeated in the salary cap era: The 2007 New England Patriots.
Two years ago, the Pats were a force to be reckoned with; head and shoulders above their competition. But do the Saints have what it takes this year to be as dominating a force as the Patriots were during their incredible regular season run in 2007? Just for giggles, I took the liberty of correlating the stats of the New Orleans Saints through week six of the 2009 season with the New England Patriots through week five of the 2007 season, both teams having played five games. Unbelievable to admit, the Saints compare very favorably.
First, a look at scoring. The Saints have been piling on the points so far this season scoring a total of 192 - including 25 touchdowns - in their first five games and enough for most in the league. Amusingly enough, that's ten more points and two more touchdowns than the high-flying Patriots had five games into their 2007 season. But, to be fair, New England's defense was tougher against their opponents, holding them to only 65 points and an impressive differential of 117. The Saints have only 99 points between them and their opponents.
It takes a lot of yards to score all those points and naturally, the Saints aren't lacking in that department. The offense has racked up a total of 2,150 yards, once again besting the Patriots 2007 offense by only eleven yards. The Saints have also accomplished that production with slightly more run/pass balance. But the Patriots defense was tighter, only allowing 1,257 yards by their opponent. New Orleans has given up 1,506 yards, 249 more. Keep in mind, however, the Saints gave up a fair amount of late-game garbage yards during blowouts; 438 yards in the fourth quarter alone this season, more than one-third of their opponents total yardage.
Now, here is where it gets better: The Saints have done all of this against a better quality opponent. At the time of their meetings, the Saints opponents have had a total record of 10-1 including two undefeated teams. Much more impressive than the 4-6 record of the teams the 2007 Patriots faced. Taking the record analysis even further, after five games the total record of the teams New England had defeated was 7-18, just a 28% winning percentage. The teams the Saints have beaten currently have a total record of 14-15, giving them a more profound 48% winning percentage.
Amazingly, the Saints' offense is clicking along at a slightly higher level than the Patriots were during their bid for perfection and have a legitimate excuse for being just shy of New England's defensive production. And they've done it all against better teams. That's impressive. Could all of this mean the Saints have a legitimate shot at running the table in 2009? There's nothing that says they can't and the signs so far are in their favor. Staying focused and healthy will be key. But what are the odds it actually happens? Not good. Probably like one in a million.
So you're telling me there's a chance...YEAH!