The exciting part about this exercise is that we can follow the ups and downs of our beloved Saints throughout the regular season via the variations of their odds not only to make it to the Super Bowl, but first to even make it to the playoffs, win the NFC South, or earn a first round bye in the playoffs.
My favorite website to look at Super Bowl odds throughout the regular season is Five Thirty Eight (FTE). They use the well-oiled Elo rating system. The system was invented by physicist Arpad Elo, and originally designed to rate players in zero-sum games, like chess. The system assigns a gain value to the winner and a loss value to the loser such that the sum of the winner’s gain and the loser’s loss is equal to zero.
Who rose? Who fell? Let’s look at the standings:
The Top 10
Remember in week one of the NFL regular season when the Saints dismantled the Green Bay Packers 38-3? That feels like it happened two decades ago. In truth, it was September 12, and since then, the Packers have gone 7-2 and sit atop the odds of winning the Super Bowl. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers may have his detractors, and it the criticism and sometimes hate he receives may even be warranted. One thing however is undeniable: he is one of the greatest quarterbacks to walk the earth and once again has Green Bay positioned to make a run in the postseason. Like those Walking Dead zombies who never die, the New England Patriots are back in the top 5 in odds of winning the Lombardi, with a rookie quarterback, no-less. Sorry to salt the wound, Saints fans, but with their earlier victory against the Pats and the Bucs, the Saints have beaten three of the top 5 teams in these rankings. Chew on that.
The newcomers in the top 10 this week are former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and his merry and of Bengals. Cincy crushed the Pittsburgh Steelers 41-10 and are right on the heels of the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC North crown. The NFL is and remains a quarterback league. If you have a good one, chances are, you are in this top 10.
The Muddled Middle
Guess who we do not see in the muddled middle tier this week. That’s right, your New Orleans Saints, that’s how bad things have been. The other the shocker here is the Los Angeles Rams, once viewed as a dream team full of stars, the Rams have now lost three games in a row and are in danger of falling too far behind the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC West division title. Fortunately for LA, the Jacksonville Jaguars are next up on the schedule, thus at least one more victory is assured before a murderous row of opponents awaits them to finish the season. Another unusual team in this tier are the Pittsburgh Steelers, who as we mentioned earlier were humbled by the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Father Time has finally come to collect his due when it comes to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and the painful quarterback rebuild that the Saints are facing now is looking at Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin squarely in the face.
The Bottom 10
Hey, at least the Saints lead the bottom 10! New Orleans dropped six spots from 17th last week to 23rd after their brutal 31-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills. New Orleans’ chances are making the playoffs are still good at 24%, while a fifth-straight division crown now appears out of reach. Below the Saints, the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons show that the NFC South is truly a one-team race this season, with the Bucs three games clear of their nearest competition with only six games to go. The Lions and Jaguars are doing what they do, which is vying for the number one overall pick in the draft. Meanwhile, the surprise of the season continues to be the downfall of the Seattle Seahawks. Let’s hope that such ineptitude leads Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to further demand to be traded from the team this offseason. This would give New Orleans the ability to swoop in and try to get the former Super Bowl winner on board the Black and Gold train and fill the Saints’ biggest need now.
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