In some ways the Pelicans resemble the Saints from 2012-2016, good offense, bad defense, but let’s not oversimplify the issues.

Shots per game

Obviously, you can win if you make more shots than the other guys, but in order to make more shots you either need to take more shots or hit a higher percentage of the shots you take or some combination thereof.  One area where the Pelicans are really struggling at is in the shots taken per game stat.  Pels are currently attempting 84.9 field goals per game, which is 20th in the league.  League average is 85.4, so they are 0.5 shots per game below the league average.  That’s not so bad, but their opponents are attempting 90.2 shots per game, 2nd most in the league.  Pels are getting out shot by 90.2 – 84.9 = 5.3 shots per game.  That, my friends, is dead last in the NBA.  But Golden State is 29th and Cleveland is 28th, so maybe this is not the be-all end-all of stats to be concerned about.

Why would a team be -5.3 in shots per game?  Turnovers can certainly be part of it.  Rebounding could be another part.  Reluctance to take the end-of-the-quarter percentage busting heave shots could be another.  You will sometimes see clever veterans dribble towards the other end, wait for the buzzer to sound, and then heave the shot, knowing it won’t count against their stats.  But let’s not get sidetracked.


In terms of field goal % per 100 possessions, the Pelicans are very good, 2nd best in the league at 48.8%.  They’re 3rd best in 2 point % and 9th best in 3 point % on their way to 2nd best overall.  Defensively, however, not nearly so good.  Pelicans are tied for 15th best in FG% allowed at 46.1% (per 100 possessions).  They are 15th best in 3 point % allowed and 16th in 2 point % allowed (per 100 possessions).  So, field goal percentage is really not the issue.  They’re excellent offensively and average defensively.  Sure, they could be better defensively, but it’s middle-of-the-pack in terms of field goal percentage allowed per 100 possessions.

In terms of net FG% (your FG% – your opponents’ FG%) the Pelicans are +0.027, which is 2nd best in the league.  The problem isn’t so much the defensive FG% allowed, but rather it’s the total number of shots being allowed.


In terms of rebounds per 100 possessions, the Pelicans are 24th with only 42.7 total rebounds per 100 possessions.  Opponents are getting 43.3 rebounds per 100 possessions.  Thus, the net rebounding per 100 possessions is -0.6, which is 18th in the league, so another middle-of-the-pack ranking.  Rebounding, while it could be better, is not the big issue.

A note on rebounding.  I think too much is made of offensive rebounding versus defensive rebounding because every defensive rebound you get is an offensive rebound the opponent doesn’t get, and vice-versa.  Let’s say we change the rules such that every offensive rebound gets you 10 points and defensive rebounds count for 0 points.  You’d want to get more offensive rebounds, right?  Wrong.  It would still be just as important to get the defensive rebound because that’s an offensive rebound (and 10 points) the opponent is not getting.  Total rebounds is really all that matters, and it doesn’t matter whether they’re offensive or defensive.


Pelicans are averaging 15.8 turnovers per 100 possessions, which is 6th worst in the league.  Opponents are averaging 14.4 turnovers per 100 possessions, which is 21st in the league.  Thus, the Pelicans have a net of -1.4 turnovers per 100 possessions, which is 25th worst.

The Pelicans are getting out shot (in terms of field goal attempts) by 5.3 per 100 possessions.  Turnover differential makes up for 1.4 of those lost shots, while rebounding differential makes up for 0.6.  Thus, turnovers and rebounds account for 1.4 + 0.6 = 2.0 lost shots per 100 possessions.



Biggest issue facing the Pelicans is the net shots per 100 possessions of -5.3.  If you’re shooting 84.9 shots per your opponents’ 90.2 shots, that means you’re taking 84.9 / 90.2 = 94.12% as many shots as they are.  Just to break even you would need to shoot 1.06243 times better than your opponents are shooting.  Pels are shooting 48.8%, their opponents are shooting 46.1%, so they’re outshooting them by 48.8 / 46.1 = 1.05857, which is short of where they would need to be to break even (1.06243) and make up for the lost shot opportunities.

Pelicans are shooting it about as well as they can, so there isn’t much room for improvement there.  There is room for improvement in FG% defense, but it’s middle-of-the-pack.  Biggest room for improvement is in turnover %.  Cutting down on the turnovers should be priority #1 going forward.  Better team rebounding should be priority #2.


Time to pay up, Saints fans.  Time to pay our membership dues.  You see, it’s not free being a member of the Who Dat Nation.  The cost is an emotional one.  Another way to look at it, it’s the less-than-anticipated return on an emotional investment.  Either way it sucks, but it has to be paid.

Scott Prather, @Scott_1420 over at ESPN1420 in Lafayette, wrote a nice piece on this subject.  Scott found inspiration in the great Alfred Lord Tennyson’s quote about it being better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.  That’s a good take on it, but mine is slightly different.

I once read a book, but I can’t remember the name of it or the author.  It wasn’t a classic, but it made an interesting point.  The story (and this has been many years ago that I read it) was about a sort of Sherlock Holmes type detective who did yoga.  He was an interesting character in that he didn’t try to lessen the blow when life punched him in the gut (as life is wont to do from time to time).  Instead, he relished the lows as much as the highs.  He said it was akin to riding a roller coaster.  You had to experience the highs and the lows to get the full effect.  Else it wasn’t a roller coaster.  It was something else.

Part of being a fan is experiencing the lows of losing as well as the highs of winning.  Without those lows the highs just don’t mean as much.  Just as a roller coaster with nothing but highs would be boring, a team that did nothing but win would be…  Okay, maybe the analogy falls short here.  I wouldn’t know what it was like to root for a team that *always* wins, but I think it really would get boring after a time.  Even Alabama fans get the occasional loss once in a while to keep things interesting.  It’s the threat of losing that makes the winning fun.

I’ll leave you with one more story.  There was a fisherman who died.  He knew he was dead.  He appeared in the afterlife in a boat with a rod and reel in his hand.  Bass fishing had always been a great love of his.  He eased up to a beautiful cypress tree and cast his lure right on side of it.  It’s one of those Boy Howdy lures, the kind that floats and has the little propellers on it.  Soon as it hit the water.  Pop!  He set the hook.  After fighting the fish for a while he reeled him in and it was big lunker bass, maybe a state record.  I’m in heaven!, he shouts.  The boat, of it’s own volition, eases him up to another tree, big beautiful cypress.  He casts his lure again.  Soon as it lands on the water, Pop!  He reels in another one, just as big as the first.  He grins from ear to ear.  This continues for a while.  Tree after tree.  Fish after fish.  Hour after hour.  Always a fish with every cast.  His smile fades as revelation dawns.  This isn’t heaven after all.


There is an old adage, “It’s hard to beat a good team 3 times.”  True or false?  The answer is yes.  The answer is no.  It’s yes and no.  It’s both.  It depends on *when* the question is asked.

If we ask the question a priori, before the season begins: “Will Team A beat Team B 3 times?”  The answer will be almost certainly no.  First of all, it’s rarely the case Team A will even get the opportunity because for it happen A has to beat B 2 times *and* A and B have to both make the playoffs *and* A and B have to meet in the playoffs.

But if we ask the question *after* A has already swept B in the regular season and after both teams make the playoffs and after the teams are scheduled to play each other a 3rd time, then the answer to the question becomes, “Yes, Team A probably will beat Team B 3 times.”

Conditional probabilities can be tricky.  Consider this conditional probability: Your friend has 3 children, and you know they are a mixture of boys and girls.  You don’t know how many boys, could be 1 or 2, but you know there’s at least 1 boy and 1 girl.  Just knowing this information (and assuming a 50/50 split of males and females in the general population ) what is the probability that the oldest child is a boy?

If you answered 50% you are correct.  Now, let’s add some more information (the conditional part).  Let’s say your friend shows you a picture of one of his children, a little girl, and he says she is his youngest child.  Now, armed with the knowledge of the gender of the youngest child being a girl, does this change the answer to the question of the gender of his oldest child?  Is it still 50/50 or has it changed with the new information?

You might say, no, it’s still 50/50, but you would be incorrect.  The probability (based on what we know at this point) is actually 2/3 or 66.7% that the oldest child is a boy.  Let’s consider the possibilities:

  1. Oldest is Boy, Middle is Boy.
  2. Oldest is Boy, Middle is Girl.
  3. Oldest is Girl, Middle is Boy.
  4. Oldest is Girl, Middle is Girl.

Well, 4 is invalid, so we need to strike that one out.  This is because we know he has at least one boy and at least one girl.  They can’t all 3 be girls.  So, the probability the oldest child is a boy is 2/3, or 66.7%.  If this seems counter-intuitive it’s because conditional probabilities can be tricky.

Consider the so-called Monte Hall puzzle.  Monte Hall was the host of Let’s Make A Deal back in the day.  Let’s suppose you are a contestant and you are offered the choice of 3 doors.  Behind one of the doors is a brand new car or some such great prize and behind the other 2 doors is a zonk, which amounts to no prize at all.  You select Door #1.  Monte says, well, it’s a good thing you didn’t take Door #2 because he reveals it to be a zonk.  Then he asks you, do you want to keep Door #1 or do you want to switch to Door #3?  What should you do?  Does it matter?

If you said it doesn’t matter, the odds are 50/50 whether you switch or keep Door #1, you are wrong.  The odds will favor switching to Door #3.  You will have a 2/3 chance of winning by switching and a 1/3 chance of winning by staying with Door #1.  Like I said, conditional probabilities are tricky.

The thing about this puzzle is we know he’s going to show us a zonk, and then ask us to switch doors, no matter what.  If you pick Door #1 and the car is behind Door #3 he’ll show you Door #2.  If the car is behind Door #2 he’ll show you Door #3 and ask you to switch.  If it’s behind Door #1 he’ll show you either Door #2 or Door #3, doesn’t matter, and then ask if you want to switch.  He’s not trying to trick you, it’s just how the game works.

The car is randomly behind one of the Doors.  Your odds of winning are 1 in 3 when you select Door #1.  If you stick with Door #1 your odds remain 1/3 because he can (and will) always be able to show you a loser door.  When he showed you Door #2 was a zonk it gave you more information.  You’re still at 1/3 if you stay, but can improve to 2/3 by switching.

Best way to wrap your head around this puzzle is imagine there are 10 doors.  You select one at random, say Door #1 again.  Your odds are 1/10 of winning the car (assuming all the other doors are all zonks).  Monte then proceeds to reveal 8 of the other doors, and then asks if you want to switch doors.  (All of this presumes the game is on the up-and-up.)  Should you switch?  Your odds were 1/10 before, and if you keep Door #1 they remain 1/10, but by switching you improve your odds of winning to whatever the opposite of 1/10 would be (9/10).  Imagine there is a thousand doors, you pick Door #362, and then he reveals 998 doors, leaving #362 and #787 unrevealed.  Should you switch to #787 or stick with #362?

The answer, which I hope you will agree upon is, you should switch to #787, the only other unrevealed door.  If you keep #362, your odds would be 1/1000 of winning the car, but by switching your odds of winning become 999/1000.  Similarly, with the 3 door puzzle you should also switch to Door #3 to improve your odds from 1/3 to 2/3.

So, what does all this have to do with a team completing a clean sweep in the NFL?  The difference is the new information we have once we learn Team A has already defeated Team B 2 times.  Without any other information (which team is better, or that both teams are playoff caliber) the preseason prediction would be it’s very unlikely to happen that A would beat B 3 times that year.  But once we learn A and B are playoff teams and A will play B a 3rd time and A already beat B twice, it changes the probabilities in favor of Team A completing the clean sweep.  History tells us it will happen about 2/3 of the time when A has that opportunity to do it.




These are all regular season numbers from  The number in each cell is the team’s ranking (1-32) in that stat.  The right column (NO NET ADV.) gives the overall net advantage for the Saints in the rankings matchup for this stat (negative number implies a disadvantage).  The Vikings are a very, very solid team with few weaknesses.  They are top 10 in 9 / 10 of these statistical categories on offense and 6 / 10 on defense.  But Saints are also top 10 in 9 / 10 on offense.  It’s on defense where the Saints struggle in the comparisons here, top 10 in only 3 / 10 categories.

EXP 9 17 2 3 -7
Scoring % 8 17 2 3 -8
Turn over % 3 9 8 22 8
points /drive 8 15 2 2 -7
passer rating 4 7 1 3 -1
Sack % 8 8 2 17 15
rush yds/att 22 27 1 5 -1
rush yds/gm 7 16 5 2 -12
punt yds/ret 8 27 25 22 -22
kick yds/ret 3 29 6 25 -7

The chart below makes it easy to see where the advantages are for the Vikings.  Passer ratings are very close as are rushing yards / attempt.  The 2 areas where the Saints have the edge are in sack % and turnover %.

nfl no vs min graph1

In the chart below the shorter bars mean the better (lower number) ranking.  Blue and Yellow are for the offenses, red and green for the defenses.  The long red bars are areas of relative weakness for the Saints defense.  Even though the defense is vastly improved from recent seasons it’s still just basically an average defense whereas the Vikings have one of the best defenses in the league.

nfl no vs min graph2

Based on this analysis the Vikings should win this game, especially since they’re at home.  The two areas where the Saints have advantages are in turnovers and sacks.  Saints absolutely need to win the turnover battle, which is, fortunately, one of their advantages.  They’re also likely going to need Drew Brees to be Drew Brees again, like he was against the Panthers.  Luckily, the Vikings foolishly built an indoor stadium, so the sub-zero weather conditions won’t be a factor.  Saints will need to win a shootout in this one.

Using‘s draft index we can compare drafts using their Career AV stat.  AV is a number PFR gives every player as a means of comparing production among different players at different positions, a tricky proposition to say the least.  Who had the better year, Ryan Ramczyk (OT) or Juju Smith-Schuster (WR)?  That’s what the AV number attempts to answer.  (Answer is: according to the AV stat, both scored 10.)

These were top scores in AV stat for 2017 rookies:

Player Pos CarAV
Alvin Kamara RB 16
Kareem Hunt RB 15
Ryan Ramczyk T 10
JuJu Smith-Schuster WR 10
Budda Baker S 9
Christian McCaffrey RB 9
Cooper Kupp WR 9

Here are the team sums:

NOR 46
SFO 28
JAX 23
LAR 23
CLE 22
DET 22
HOU 22
CHI 21
MIN 21
CIN 20
PIT 20
BUF 19
KAN 19
CAR 18
NYG 18
NYJ 18
WAS 18
SEA 16
TAM 16
ARI 15
GNB 15
TEN 14
DAL 12
IND 12
LAC 12
MIA 12
OAK 12
PHI 11
BAL 10

Here’s a handy dandy chart:

nfl 2017 draft avs

Saints, 49ers, Jaguars, Rams, and Browns led the way with getting value out of the 2017 draft.  Saints, Jaguars, and Rams all had big improvements, and the 49ers had a late-season surge.  Browns, Lions, and Texans did well in the list, but for various reasons it didn’t translate into improved performance in the win/loss columns.


There were three injustices perpetrated upon college football fandom this season: 1) Big 10 champion did not make the playoffs, 2) Pac-12 champion did not make the playoffs, and 3) an undefeated team (UCF) did not make the playoffs.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not saying it was an injustice that Alabama got it, I’m saying it was an injustice the other 3 teams got left out.  Let’s go to 8 teams so we can get all power 5 champs in.  Pac-12 and Big 10 fans should already be with me, but so should SEC, ACC, and Big 12 fans, because next year it might be your champion left behind.  No champions left behind.

UCF didn’t belong?  They beat Auburn.  Look, I’ll go along with they didn’t belong in a 4-team field because of their schedule, but they would belong in an 8-team field.  What if they really are the best team?  What if 20 years from now there are 5 players from this team in the pro football hall of fame?  Never know.  Could happen.  Who knew Tom Brady was gonna be that good?  He lasted until the 6th round.

Some arguments, and my counters and suggestions for workarounds:

Too many games

They already play 12 games, plus conference championship games, plus with 8 teams in the field, that would make (for some teams) 3 more games.  Georgia will have played 12 regular season + 1 conference championship, plus now 2 playoff games, for a total of 15 games.  That’s almost an NFL 16-game schedule for college kids that need to at least pretend to be getting an education.  If we go to 8 teams you will have some teams playing 16 games.  That is too many.  I agree.  (But consider this: not all 130 teams are affected, only a handful of teams will actually play that many games.)

Here are a few ideas for how to fix the too-many-games problem: 1) go back to playing 11 games, 2) eliminate conference championship games, 3) use flexible scheduling to eliminate 1 game from the schedule for teams that are in the conference championship games.  Can’t go back to 11, too much lost revenue.  Can’t eliminate conference championship games for the same reason.  Enter my idea: flexible scheduling.

Flexible scheduling

All of the power 5 teams (far as I know) schedule these so-called rent-a-win games.  These are the games where a big, rich school pays some small, poor school a million smackers to come play.  The big school (95+% of the time) gets a win, and the small school gets to fund its athletic programs (including the money losers, which most college sports are) for another year.  The small schools *need* those games just to make ends meet.  And the big school, of course, gets to buy itself a win (but caveat, see Troy vs LSU, App State vs Michigan, UL vs Texas A&M, etc.).

My proposal is, let’s schedule these rent-a-wins during conference championship week.  If you make the conference championship game, the conference pays off the rent-a-win schools (so they each get their million smackers) and they play each other.  Everybody wins.  Too-many-games issue resolved.  As an example, this year Georgia played App State and Samford,  while Auburn played Mercer, Georgia Southern, and UL Monroe, all clearly rent-a-win games.  Could have scheduled, say Mercer and Samford, during conference championship week.  The games would be canceled, but the teams would get paid and one of them gets a bonus home game.  Everybody wins.  Smiles, smiles, everyone!  I feel like Ricardo Montalban of Fantasy Island.  Where’s Tattoo, and where’s that damned plane?  Should have been here by now.

Bowl tradition

One of the things lost with a playoff system (even the BS BCS) was the traditional matchups had to be tossed.  We could get back to having the Pac-12 champion play the Big 10 champion in the Rose Bowl, the SEC champion in the Sugar Bowl, the Big 12 champion in the Orange Bowl.  As they should all be.  The Fiesta Bowl can be the other 2 teams.  These could be your first round games.  Alternatively, bring in 3 more bowls and let the major bowls alternate the championship and semi-finals, or just play those games the following weeks at those same sites.

There will still be arguments anyway about who was left out

There will always be arguments about whether this team or that team got snubbed, but this time the arguments are about the 8th and 9th teams rather than about the 4th and 5th teams.  The there-will-still-be-arguments argument is without merit.

Only the best should be in, those other teams don’t belong

Do we really know who the best teams are until they play?  Did you know UCF was going to beat Auburn?  If you did you should have flown to Las Vegas because Auburn was a 15-point favorite.  Would UCF have a shot against Clemson, Oklahoma, or Alabama?  My guess they’d be 15-point underdogs again.  My point is we don’t know and cannot know who the best teams are, but what we can know is which teams are most deserving, and by putting the 8 most deserving teams in we have a much better shot at crowning the best team champion.  And, look, crowning a champion is not about finding the best team.  It’s about determining a champion.

If you give these people 8 teams next they’ll want 16

I don’t want 16.  That’s too many.  Maybe I’ll change my mind, but as of now (at least for me) this is not a stepping stone to eventually expand even further.  Let’s go to 8 teams.  I’ll settle for 6, but I think 8 would be better.  With 6 teams you could still get the 5 power champs in, plus 1 at-large, and with 6 teams you’d need to have 1st round byes, which would help against the too-many-games argument.  Either way, let’s expand.  At the risk of two too many classic tv references, eight is enough, but four is not.

It might seem like something akin to blasphemy to even suggest pulling for the hated rival Falcons, but bear with me.  The only chance for the Saints to host 2 games in the playoffs is if both the Saints and the Falcons advance to the NFC Championship Game.  But it’s not as cut and dry as that because (in my view) the most difficult leg on the journey to the Superbowl is if the Saints have to go to MIN, which would be required with the ATL-beats-LAR scenario.

Potential paths to the Superbowl (presuming a win over CAR):

@MIN → (home to) ATL

Which is the easiest path? Here are the win probabilities per matchup:

@LAR 0.4
@MIN 0.35
@PHI 0.5
(home to) ATL 0.6

The above win probabilities are just numbers I pulled out of my, er, hat.  You might disagree on them.  Just as a brief explanation,  I think the Saints have a 40% chance of going to LAR and coming out with a win, 35% chance @MIN, 50% @PHI, and a 60% chance of beating ATL in the Superdome.  Again, those are just my numbers I came up with on the spur of the moment.

Using the above numbers I get the following result:

(Presuming win over Panthers)
Individual matchups for Saints
Game Win probability
@LAR 0.4
@MIN 0.35
@PHI 0.5
(home to) ATL 0.6
Paths to get to Superbowl
Path Win Probability
@PHI → @MIN 0.175
@PHI → @LAR 0.2
@MIN → @PHI 0.175
@MIN → ATL 0.21

Unfortunately, wordpress doesn’t allow javascript on this site or else I could put together a little tool for adjusting those individual matchup numbers and have it automatically update the results.  If you want the spreadsheet file, here’s a link to it in Open Document Spreadsheet (.ods) format.  It’s for Open Office, but Excel might be able to open it.  If you can’t open it, leave a comment and I’ll send it to you in Excel format.

To come up with your own path probabilities you would need to download the spreadsheet and change the win probability numbers for the individual matchups at the top of the spreadsheet, whereupon the path probabilities at the bottom would get updated.  As it stands using my numbers above the @MIN -> (home to) ATL path is slightly easier than the @PHI -> @LAR path.


EXP 13 13 2 30 28
Scoring % 17 12 4 27 28
Turn over % 27 9 11 6 13
points /drive 18 12 3 32 35
passer rating 11 10 2 23 22
Sack % 16 6 2 32 40
rush yds/att 27 27 1 24 23
rush yds/gm 27 16 5 25 31
punt yds/ret 7 26 24 9 -34
kick yds/ret 15 31 18 27 -7

The above table shows the rankings (1-32) in 10 statistical categories for each team’s offense and defense.  The NO NET ADV. column gives the Saints statistical ranking advantage (or disadvantage if negative).  The 179 is the sum of all 10 advantages, meaning the Saints enjoy a 17.9 average ranking advantage.  Biggest advantage for the Saints is sack % where Saints offense is 2nd best and the defense is 6th best while the Bucs’ offense is 16th, but their defense is 32nd.  Thus, 32+16 = 48 – (2+6) = 40.  Biggest advantage for the Bucs is on special teams in the punt and kick return game, which is an area the Saints have struggled with all year.

nfl no vs tb graph1

In the chart above lines that extend to the right of 0 show advantage Saints, those to the left show advantage Bucs, the longer the line the bigger the advantage.

nfl no vs tb graph2

In the above graph the shorter the bar the better (lower, as in smaller number) the ranking.  All data comes from

The Saints *should* win this game, based on the above analysis.  Also, Bucs are 4-11 and have lost 5 in a row while the Saints are 11-4.  But caveat aleo, even though the Bucs have lost 5 in a row they’ve been in those games down to the final few minutes.  Last 3 losses have been by 3 points each.  In his last 4 games Jameis Winston has had 8 TD’s against just 2 INT’s.  He’s getting healthier and the Bucs might be playing their best ball of the year.  And, even though the Saints are 11-4, they’re only 3-3 on the road in true road games (not counting the neutral field London game).

It has been brought to my attention (via Twitter) that the NFL gave the Saints the Superbowl in 2009, because of Katrina.  Why the NFL waited 4 years to do it is still unclear, but, hey, at least they came through eventually.  Thank you, Roger Goodell.

Thank you, Atlanta Falcons.  If the Saints had not swept (excuse me, if the Falcons had not let the Saints have both of those games) the Falcons that year, it would have been the Falcons that were 13-3 and the Saints that were 11-5.  Saints would not have had home field advantage throughout, but would have instead been a wildcard team traveling in the playoffs, and the Falcons would have been the #1 seed.  Thank you, Arthur Blank.  Who dat!, buddy.  Who dat!

Thank you, Matt Ryan.  You were awesome that year against the Saints: 19/42 (45.2%), 1 TD, 3 INT’s, passer rating: 46.6.  ‘Preciate you for doing your part, man.  You even sat out one game against the Saints.  What did you tell them?  Your tummy hurt?  He he.  Thanks, man.  Took a while, but we got you that MVP, as promised.  He he.

Thank you, Brett Favre.  Thanks for throwing that interception to Tracy Porter.  That was a great sacrifice you made.  I know you wanted to win the Superbowl that year, but you agreed to throw that pick so the Saints and the city of New Orleans could have that Superbowl win.  That was awesome of you, man.  And it was a perfect pass, too, just like Roger Goodell told you on the phone.  Remember that conversation?  “Now, remember, Brett.  He’s a cornerback, not a receiver.  It needs to a perfect pass.”  And you nailed it, dude, right between the numbers.  Hope you’re enjoying that Wrangler contract we got for you.  Real.  Jeans.  Dude, you nailed that one, too!  Who Dat!

Thank you, Peyton Manning.  I know it was tough, man.  I know it was tough to throw that pick-six in the Superbowl, but it had to be done.  And the way you threw it right to Tracy Porter, I mean, right to him, that was sweet.  Everybody thinks you were trying to throw it to Reggie Wayne, who was standing right there behind Tracy, but we know better.  [nod, nod, wink, wink]  Oh, yeah, and thanks for striking that pose on your elbows as you watched Tracy and Will Smith and those guys celebrate on the way to the end zone.  That was a great picture.  Roger told you that was gonna be an epic, iconic picture.  ‘Preciate you.  Sorry we weren’t able to get you that parade at the airport after the game.  We called a lot of Colts fans to try to get that lined up.  Not our fault only 5 of them showed up.  Hope you’re still not bitter.  And, remember, we got the AP to give you that MVP trophy even though they wanted to give it to the real MVP that year.  We good, right?

Thank you, Kareem Moore.  (Who?)  Thanks, Kareem.  Other fans might have forgotten you and what you did for us, but I remember.  Thanks for letting Robert Meachem have that interception and run it in for the score.  That was swell of you, man.  Saints might have lost that game otherwise.  Nice handoff, man.  Thought Robert might drop it there for a moment.  He he.

Well, this is getting long, so let me wrap it up.  So many people to thank, so little space to do it in.  I want to thank all the quarterbacks who threw all those interceptions to the Saints that year.  26 of them, and we needed them all.  And thanks for not throwing too many TD’s against our team, too.  You guys kept it down to just 15 the whole year.  That’s pretty amazing.  Your generosity that season truly knew no bounds.

Special thanks to the entire Colts team that year.  Thanks for letting us have that onside kick.  Thanks for not tackling Pierre Thomas on that screen pass.  Special thanks again to Peyton for the pick-six.  But most of all, thank you, Atlanta Falcons.  Saints simply could not have done it without you guys.  That #1 seed you guys gave us that year, I can’t emphasize it enough.

And, Roger, what can we say?  You made so many phone calls setting all this up.  Wasn’t easy, I know.  But, hey, that’s why we pay you the big bucks.  He he.  Don’t worry about Jerry.   And don’t worry about those tv ratings, man.  We got you.  He he.

Philly has locked up the #1 seed, but they are vulnerable.  In fact, I think they go 1-and-done in the playoffs against any of these teams: NO, CAR, LAR, or MIN.  They might be able to take down ATL or SEA, but that’s about it.

#2 seed is up for grabs, but MIN has the inside track.  CAR is still alive, but they need NO to lose to TB *and* they need to beat ATL in ATL.  Neither of these is likely to happen.

#3 seed is there for the taking by the Rams *if* they want it.  Rams might elect to rest starters and slide into the #4 seed, hoping to get PHI in the division round.  We’ll see how they play it.  SF might beat LAR outright in any case because since they started starting Jimmy GQ, they’ve won 4 in a row.  Saints can take the #3 seed by beating TB if LAR falls to SF.  (It’s also possible MIN slides to #3 if CAR takes #2, but that requires NO losing to TB and CAR beating ATL.)

#4 seed is probably where the Saints land.  They can lock that up by beating the Bucs, assuming LAR beats SF.

#5 is probably where CAR lands unless NO falls to TB and CAR beats ATL in ATL.  Only CAR and NO can be #5, no other team can get this seed.

#6 is probably going to ATL, but SEA might get it if ATL falls to CAR and SEA beats ARI.

The 2 toughest matchups for the Saints (IMO) would be @ LAR and @ MIN.  The Saints can take CAR at home or on the road either way if it comes to that and the Saints can take out PHI if it comes to that.  Should we Saints fans be pulling for the #4 seed instead of the #3 seed?  That’s a good question.  The #4 seed likely means playing CAR in the Superdome, then going to PHI in the division round, then finishing up in the NFC CG @ MIN.  I’ll take it if it happens, but I don’t like the Saints’ chances in MIN, to be honest.  If the Saints get the #3 seed it likely means hosting SEA/ATL, which the Saints should win, then going to MIN in the 2nd round, which, again, is a tough matchup for the Saints.  But *if* they can win in MIN they can then host the NFC Championship Game against (probably) the Rams.  I’m not crazy about either matchup (@ LAR or @ MIN), but I like the Saints chances hosting LAR in the NFCCG, so the #3 seed is probably the one to hope for.

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