New Orleans Saints A Team of Destiny?
Posted by sportsmaven on January 18, 2007
The buzz phrase this week from our friends in the national media is that the New Orleans Saints are a team of destiny. The Indianapolis Colts have also used that self descriptive moniker when talking about themselves, as though the hand of God is sweeping away all challengers and paving a path of gold for these two teams to meet in Miami on Feb. 4th for pro football’s biggest prize, Super Bowl XLI. When people start pulling out the Team of Destiny card, it’s often a sign that a team is not playing well enough to consistently win. Last I heard, they still had to play the games on the field. Several Seattle Seahawks stated that after the Dallas Cowboys game, that they were a Team of Destiny. They were a team of destiny all right, destined to watch the rest of the playoffs at home on a high definition plasma screen.
So if we plan on using the Team of Destiny line, shouldn’t we be able to bring in other forms of sporting voodoo in play? How about the Billy Goat curse or the ex-Cub factor? (Sorry, wrong sport) But what about the SI jinx? I just received this week’s copy of Sports Illustrated in the mail today and look who was on the cover. For those who don’t subscribe, here is a visual:
So which theory prevails this weekend? Sorry Drew, we play the game on the field and here are my keys to the NFC Championship Game:
Bears – Rex Grossman and the defense is what everyone talks about as keys to whether the Bears move on or not, but I think that is the easy way out. The real keys for the Bears are a bit more complex than that. I am looking at 3rd down conversions as a key stat this week. The Bears are at 31% in stopping 3rd down coversions, which is #2 in the NFL in that category. Stop 3rd down conversions, and you keep Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, and company off the field and keep a mediocre Saints defense on the field. Secondly, do not let Brees get comfortable in the pocket. Change the looks he’s getting, use the blitz early, take him out of his rhythm. If Brees is allowed to get comfortable early, his accurate passing will pick the Bears secondary apart, especially with little to no push to the quarterback from the Bears front four. Finally, win the turnover battle and get very physical. The Washington Redskins did this in the regular season and held Brees to his lowest QB rating of the season (59.9).
Saints – the Bears actually match up with the Saints fairly well, so the keys for the Saints are to establish the run early to loosen up the passing game. McAllister and Bush are the best combo backfield in the NFL and are ideal complements to each other. The Saints like to use a version of the spread offense to open up lanes for Bush and Marques Colston to exploit. If McAllister is established early, those lanes open up like a landing strip at O’Hare. Secondly, the Saints need their rush ends, Will Smith and Charles Grant to get a push on Grossman to protect their weak secondary. The Saints are prone to the big play and when they give it up, they give it up BIG. (ask Fred Thomas about that) Put the heat on Rex and the Bears offense slams to a grinding halt. Finally, win the time of possession battle. Keep the #1 rated offense in the NFC on the field as much as possible.
The Sports Maven’s prediction: Bears 31, Saints 24