Smiley Anders: Saints are better … a little
My Fearless Football Forecast for the New Orleans Saints shows what an eternal optimist I am regarding that often snake-bit bunch.
As I have often predicted, wrongly, THIS year, the lads in black and gold make the playoffs, but barely, and then don’t stay long. (I’m not THAT foolishly optimistic.)
OK, let’s get this exercise in futility underway:
Bad start blues
The Saints open the 2017 season with a Monday nighter at the Minnesota Vikings, and it’s not one of ESPN’s proudest moments. Neither team looks ready, and both march up and down the field without doing much scoring. Finally the Vikings win on a late field goal, and the game is mercifully over.
Not even close
It would be nice to say the Saints defeat the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the first game of the season in the Superdome. But no, Tom Brady doesn’t look any better than Drew Brees, but his supporting cast looks much better, and that is the difference.
No win for you!
The bad news continues as the Saints journey to a date with the Carolina Panthers, an always-tough divisional foe. Cam Newton has a good day; bad news for the crew from New Orleans, and the Saints fall to 0-3.
Lighting up London
The Saints-Miami Dolphins contest in London (yes, the one in England!) is worth getting up early for (it kicks off at 8:30 a.m. our time). It’s a bloody mary morning, and New Orleans looks bloody good, as running back Adrian Peterson finally gets going. Jake Cutler of the Dolphins has an off day, and the Saints’ defense seals the victory.
Lions don’t roar
After a bye week, the rested Saints return to the Dome and play a complete game against the Detroit Lions, winning convincingly and giving hope to their formerly morose fans.
A road trip to meet the Green Bay Packers doesn’t end well, as the Pack proves too tough on its home field.
Back for a two-game home stand, the Saints defeat the mistake-prone Chicago Bears and start looking like a team with a defense.
But then, New Orleans drops the ball often and drops a divisional contest to the improved Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At the season’s halfway point, the Saints are just 3-5.
The Tampa Bay loss wakes up the boys in black, and they pull out a rare road win against the Buffalo Bills, who have quarterback troubles
No war dance
The Saints make it two in a row by taking a home contest from the Washington Indigenous People, who also have trouble finding a competent signal caller.
West Coast woes
With two straight wins, the Saints are actually favored to go into L.A. and beat the up-and-down Los Angeles Rams in their new quarters. But it doesn’t happen.
Pound the Panthers
Back home in a rocking Expensive German Car Superdome, the Saints pull out a surprising win over the Carolina Panthers, splitting their series and giving the underdogs new life.
Dirty Bird blues
But then the Atlanta Falcons dominate the visiting Saints in one of those dreaded Thursday night affairs.
It’s hard to believe, but the Saints win their last two home games to edge closer to a playoff berth. Brees plays his heart out as they win handily over the struggling New York Jets, and then they take a classic shoot-out from the Falcons in the Dome, amid a sea of “28-3” signs.
Bucs stop here
It comes down to this: the winner of the Saints-Buccaneers game in Tampa, on the last day of 2017, gets the final wild card spot in the NFC playoffs. Tampa Bay is favored, but the Brees-Peterson show gets into high gear, and New Orleans wins in overtime.
An icy reception
Alas, the Saints’ jubilation at making the playoffs lasts only until the end of a return match with Green Bay, back in Lambeau Field in the dead of winter. The Saints’ hopes of advancing are left on the snowy field that day.
But, still, they DID make the playoffs …