If I told you the Saints would lose at home to a 1-6 Titans team whose coach was just fired and replaced by a former Jacksonville Jaguars coach with a 2-14 record who’d been canned after just the first season and whose starting QB is a rookie coming off a sprained knee injury and whose defensive secondary was dilapidated and who was without their best wide receiver, how would you react?
Meh. I could see that happening.
It’s a shame, really. When I turned the game on Sunday afternoon, I saw a 3-and-out from the Titans offense and subsequently an impressive 75-yardish march capped with a Josh Hill TD pass from Brees. I was grinning like the Grinch would have had the people of Whoville awoken to all their %$^& having been stolen and instead of rejoicing in communal warmth, shrieked in woeful despair.
And then that circus catch by Delanie Walker wiped the stupid grin right off of my stupid face. Byrd and Lewis decided to start an impromptu tango with one another while the ball was in flight, it comically bounced off one of them and went right into Walker’s arms. He then galloped like a sheep for like 60 yards all the way to the end zone.
Yea, ok. Now we’re watching a 2015 Saints football game.
First things, Brees was pretty awesome sans that pick, otherwise posting 389 yards and 3 TDs. Brees needs to average 366 passing yards a game herein to pass Marino all-time this year, and given the way the defense has been playing I don’t think that’s unreasonable. The Ryan Succop crossbar doink was humorous, the Kai Forbath miss unfortunate, and Jurrell Casey needs a belt or a leotard.
Oh, and yeah, Marcus Mariota looked really good. Correction. Our defense participated in helping Mariota look really good. But still, he played well. Good for him. I like Mariota.
So, now what?
Well, we could TANK! 4-12 is still in the cards… Don’t even lie. That’s crossed your mind. We could. 4-12 would be probably 7th or higher. We could get a DT like Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche or, pending position, Ohio State’s Joey Bosa. Want a WR? There’re some goodies there, too.
Should we, though? Nah. I don’t think so. The Saints are 4-5 – A date with the Redskins, a bye, and then a slew of winnables has me thinking we may as well just go all out. Will we go 11-5?
No. And if I’m wrong on this, fine. Come back here and call me on it. I’ll take my lumps.
Will we have a winning record at season’s end? Very somewhat ideally potentially possibly maybe not, well yea, sure, I can see it. Here’s the Saints slate of games herein –
@ Redskins (3-5)
@ Texans (3-5)
vs Panthers (8-0)
@ Buccaneers (3-5)
vs Lions (1-7)
vs Jaguars (2-6)
@ Falcons (6-3)
A combined 26-31. And, yea, I’m aware that tabulating wins-losses in this manner is moot at this point, especially when it comes to a Saints team that lost bad games to the Buccaneers AND the Titans, both at home. I’m going out on a bit of a limb here and projecting a 9-7 season for the Saints. How that shakes out and will that actually happen, I’ve no idea. At this rate, though, given the records of the Vikings (6-2) and the Falcons (6-3), 9-7 means no postseason and a slightly warm feeling, like what you would feel in the pool water whilst swimming at a frat party.
So, here’s what I propose – Take heed, Saints. And fans, these are the teams we particularly need to lose to make it.
Disclaimer: Reaching the playoffs does not, nor ever will, imply that the Saints will win or even be marginally competitive. They could, in theory, there’s just no guarantee. K?
The NFL currently has the Panthers and Packers getting the first round bye in the NFC. Fine. We aren’t catching the Panthers this season. The best we can do is beat them in Charlotte and laugh heartily about it. With the division title out of reach, we will be vying for one of the two Wild Card spots. NFL.com has the Vikings and the Falcons sitting at 5th and 6th, respectively. For reference, NFL.com has the Cardinals and the Giants at 3rd and 4th, respectively, as division winners. The Cardinals makes sense. The NFC East however, is about as stable as an unemployed tornado with substance abuse problems.
As everything currently shakes out, NFL.com, referring to all tie-breaking measures etc, has the Saints as the current #10 seed. The 4 teams we would need to surpass to make the playoffs, in order from #9-#6, are the Eagles, Seahawks, Rams, and Falcons.
#9 Eagles (4-4): Yes. They spanked our baby bottoms badly. Remaining on their schedule though, they have a date with the Dolphins (3-5), consecutive winnable games against the Lions and Buccaneers, and then a brutal streak of games against the Patriots (8-0), Bills (4-4), and Cardinals (6-2). They then close out their season with divisional games against the Redskins and Giants.
#8 Seahawks (4-4): Of any outsider to take the #6 spot, and despite their o-line, I’d go with the Seahawks just on recent success alone. They’ve got two more dates with the Cardinals, and a game against the Rams, but the rest of their games are all exceedingly winnable – vs 49ers, vs Steelers, @ Ravens, vs Browns.
#6 Falcons (6-3): Our old friends! We beat them head to head, so we really just need them to lose one more time in order for the Saints to control their own destiny (over the Falcons), since we face them again the last game of the season. The Falcons play a likely Hasselbeck-led Colts team after their bye, then a tough one against Minnesota. They’ve got two games remaining against Carolina, one more against the Buccaneers and, as mentioned, the Saints. And one against the Jaguars.
So, what’s next? You tell me. I say go for it – not as though Sean Payton would condone tanking anyways. We lost a bad one to the Titans, but I’m all for a push to make the postseason. As for draft prospects, we almost certainly won’t finish sufficiently high enough to miss some of the top talent positions of need – at least not how it looks at this point. Do I think we can jump those 4 spots? Maybe. Maybe not.
And if we do? Awesome.