I’m tired of picking the Saints to win. I’ve done it for six weeks and have only been rewarded for my less-than-skillful analysis twice. That’s clearly not a good percentage. Like the Saints, I’m struggling.
Here are excerpts from my earlier columns this season:
Week one – Atlanta: “If the running game does what it should and the defense can maintain last year’s top 5 ranking, we will all be talking about Drew Brees a little less. And I’m sure he’ll be ok with that.”
Week two – Cleveland: “The Browns put up 389 total yards of offense against the Steelers in week one, but Brian Hoyer and Andrew Hawkins aren’t exactly Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. This should be a good get-well opportunity for the Saints defense. Should be.”
Now I’m 0-2 and despondent.
Week four – Dallas: “If the defense can force a turnover or two and the running game continues to be productive, I think the Saints win going away. If not, it could be a long night in Big D.”
That didn’t work out well.
Week six – “To be successful against Detroit, it starts and ends with the Saints offensive line. Everything else aside, if the Saints protect Drew Brees and run the ball well, I think they win. Problem is, Brees has been hurried and hit quite a bit this season.”
You see where this is going.
I don’t know which way is up with this version of the Saints. They’re a talented and well-paid bunch on both sides of the ball, but inconsistent. There’s winning effort, but a lack of wins. They start games, but don’t finish. Fans are just as frustrated and perplexed as the players and coaches.
So let’s change things up.
The Saints will lose to the Packers.
Drew Brees will throw an ill-timed pick-six, the defensive secondary will give up too many big plays, the running game will be up and down and a member of the media will make Sean Payton angry after the game with a legitimate but annoying-to-him question.
The Packers are the hottest team in the NFL, winners of four straight. It’s tough to find another quarterback playing better than Aaron Rodgers (18 touchdowns, one interception). The defense will be challenged yet again.
Don’t ask me how the Saints are a two point favorite. Sure, they’re playing in the Superdome in primetime and they rarely lose under those circumstances, but the Saints are a team that has consistently disappointed since the season-opening kickoff. Even in victory they’ve looked pedestrian.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense will be too much to contain, even though the unit is ranked just 25th in the NFL. Even if the Saints play it close and competitive, this short season tells me they won’t be able to close it out when it counts.
Like the Saints, my approach had to change. Maybe this strategy will work. If it doesn’t I’m throwing in the towel.
Packers win, 31-29.