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2015 Saints: It's a Race to the Bottom, Folks

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The Saints are 4-7 and the time would be now if they want to snag the best draft position possible. Should they?

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Look, I don’t like this any more than my fellow Who Dat brethren and sistren, but it’s been pretty painfully obvious since that horrifying overtime loss to the (presently 2-9) Titans – The Saints are playing some rancid football.

I swore to myself I wouldn’t invoke the "P" word in this post, but the playoffs are about as pie in the sky as an actual pie in the sky. A sweet, highly improbable, lemon meringue pie in the sky. So, in the interest of pragmatism and perhaps at the expense of a few fan’s ruffled feathers, I propose the Saints flip the whole dang thing on its head and RACE TO THE BOTTOM!

Full disclosure – I wrote this bit of wishful thinking a month ago and, in hindsight, find my then-optimism to be both somewhat endearing but also quite thoroughly numbskullish. To think that we were going to make the playoffs and then be competitive there? For SHAME!

Also, the lovable JR Ella wrote a Shakespearean entreaty waaay back in September, in which he discussed at length and asked CSCers whether the Saints should tank if they fall to 0-3. 49% of you (241) said they should, and a fun full-quarter of voters chose "The only tank I want is one full of beer...and a burger!" Nice.

Nah. At this point, the only remaining wins I’m willing to humor are ones in which Cam Newton assumes his oft recognized "saddened E.T." on the sideline, and Matt Ryan throwing like four picks in the red zone. Let the Schadenfreude flow through you!!!

Outside of those games, the Saints would do well to find the bottom of the NFL in a hurry.

Current 2016 NFL Draft Order

Make no mistake, Saints fans, several teams are seemingly already aboard. With 5 games remaining in the 2015 campaign, let’s have a look at our 2016 NFL Draft order competitors, their remaining schedules, and player needs as suggested by NFL.com.

***

#1 Tennessee (2-9; SOS 0.479)

Remaining games

-Jacksonville (4-7)*

-@NYJ (6-5)

-@NE (10-1)

-Houston (6-5)

-@Indianapolis (6-5)

Combined (32-23)

Needs

-OT

-RB

-S

-ILB

***

#2 Cleveland (2-9; SOS 0.504)

Remaining games

-Cincinnati (9-2)

-SF (3-8)*

-@Seattle (6-5)

-@KC (6-5)

-Pittsburgh (6-5)

Combined (30-25)

Needs

-QB

-WR

-DE

-ILB

***

#3 San Diego (3-8;SOS 0.496)

Remaining games

-Denver (9-2)

-@KC (6-5)

-Miami (4-7)*

-@Oakland (5-6)

-@Denver (9-2)

Combined (33-22)

Needs

-WR

-LB

-QB

-C

***

#4 Dallas (3-8; SOS 0.529)

Remaining games

-@Washington (5-6)

-@GB (7-4)

-NYJ (6-5)

-@Buffalo (5-6)

-Washington (5-6)

Combined (28-27)

Needs

-RB

-QB

-DT

-LB

***

#5 San Francisco (3-8; SOS 0.579)

Remaining games

-@Chicago (5-6)

-@Cleveland (2-9)*

-Cincinnati (9-2)

-@Detroit (4-7)

-St Louis (4-7)

Combined (24-31)

Needs

-QB

-OT

-WR

-Defensive line

***

#6 Miami (4-7; SOS 0.463)

Remaining games

-Baltimore (4-7)*

-NYG (5-6)

-@SD (3-8)*

-Indianapolis (6-5)

-NE (10-1)

Combined (28-27)

Needs

-CB

-G

-OT

-ILB

***

#7 Baltimore (4-7; SOS 0.463)

Remaining games

-@Miami (4-7)*

-Seattle (6-5)

-KC (6-5)

-Pittsburgh (6-5)

-@Cincinnati (9-2)

Combined (31-24)

Needs

-S

-DE/OLB

-WR

***

#8 Philadelphia (4-7; SOS 0.463)

Remaining games

-@NE (10-1)

-Buffalo (5-6)

-Arizona (9-2)

-Washington (5-6)

-@NYG (5-6)

Combined (34-21)

Needs

-QB

-OT

-DE/OLB

-G

***

#9 New Orleans (4-7; SOS 0.512)

Remaining games

-Carolina (11-0)

-@TB (5-6)

-Detroit (4-7)

-Jacksonville (4-7)

-@Atlanta (6-5)

Combined (30-25)

Needs

-WILL

-G

-QB

-CB

***

#10 Jacksonville (4-7; SOS 0.512)

Remaining games

-@Tennessee (2-9)*

-Indianapolis (6-5)

-Atlanta (6-5)

-@New Orleans (4-7)

-@Houston (6-5)

Combined (24-31)

Needs

-CB

-S

-C

-DT

Analysis and Implications

Referring to the above table, there are currently 8 games which occur between teams ranked higher than the Saints in draft order. Obviously this is a fluid situation with 5 games remaining, but the implications both for the outcomes of those games and the Saints final record these remaining games warrant some consideration. The Titans face the Jags this weekend and the Ravens are @ Miami. If the Saints lose to Carolina, as they are presently the clear underdogs, they are guaranteed a jump of at least one game, maybe more, with 4 games left to play.

Ranked by remaining combined opposing team standings (and therefore somewhat of a gauge for how to expect each team in the current top 10 draft order finishes their season), the following teams, in order, have the best odds of improving their draft order (via loss; current position notwithstanding) – Philadelphia, San Diego, Tennessee, Baltimore, Cleveland, New Orleans, Miami, Dallas, San Fran, Jacksonville.

Mind you, too, the Rams and Lions are on the outside looking in to the top-10 also at 4-7 apiece and then there are 5 teams with 5-6 after them. So, basically, every win herein can mean draft order falls of greater than 5 positions. Contrarily, losses at this juncture mean some pretty big jumps up the board.

Saints Needs

NFL.com has us needing WILL, CB, QB, G – All of which I agree with, QB obviously to a lesser extent (especially having taken one in the 3rd round last year), though I would also add and probably prioritize pass rusher/defensive end. Bobby Richardson has been good against the run but not a whole let else. It would be really nice to give our secondary a bit of a break with some PRESSURE ON THE QB. Also, we could use a DT. And a legendary dragon or other such mythical beast. That would maybe help create pressure up the middle.

The Final 5 Games of the Saints Season

While I would always prefer that we beat the Panthers, and acknowledge it’s a divisional game in the Dome this week, I don’t realistically see a scenario where this happens. The Panthers, despite losing Kelvin Benjamin before the season started, have been playing very good football on either side of the ball. They’ve had a few close games against teams with now winning records (Packers, Colts, Seahawks), but have just been college-footballing everyone else.

Tampa seems a tad more respectable this season, as I’m sure they were expecting with the addition of Famous Jameis. This is relevant at the moment since they’re #3 in the NFC South and vying for that final seed, and that they may not be interested in throwing their game against us like they did last season. We can definitely beat them and probably should have earlier in the season but, my want for high draft order outweighs my pride as a fan being able to say that my team was closer to .500 than not.

Detroit, against practically all odds has looked really good of late, winning their last 3. They’ve got a rematch date against the Packers this Thursday (which yours truly will be attending) and are looking for their first season sweep of the cheeseheads since the Barry Sanders era. Anywho – they beat us last year (in hysterical fashion) and I think at this point we should just be playing the boy wonder Grayson.

Jacksonville, despite themselves at times, is playing better than Jacksonville has played in recent years. Yay, Gus Bradley! Will they beat us even if we try? Lol. Probably.

@ Atlanta – Let’s definitely try and win this one. Avenge their season sweep from last year whilst potentially damning their playoff ambitions. I’d gladly take 5-11 for that win in the Georgia Dome

Conclusions

You'll notice, I never suggested we tank. As a loyal Saints fan I'd never (overtly) advocate for such a thing. Well, I would. And I sort of am, but I never said TANK! Frankly, at this point the Saints can just go out there and try to win and achieve the same results they have at this point, which is clearly more likely than Payton and Brees standing up in front of their guys and saying, "K, dudes. Let's just go have FUN! Literally. Have only fun and nothing else."

Who knows. Maybe that'd actually work.