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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:

Drew Brees on SI

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

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