Saints Staying Off The Radar
Saints Staying off the Radar
By Wayne Allyn Root
You probably watched the New Orleans Saints open the 2011 NFL season with a loss to the Green Bay Packers. Have you watched more than a half of Saints action since then? Their annihilation of the Indianapolis Colts was a Sunday Night game six weeks later, but who stuck around after halftime for that? They haven't been in any other truly national telecasts since then.
New Orleans entered the weekend as the quietest 7-3 team in the league!
That creates some opportunities for smart handicappers because off-the-radar teams often have strengths and weaknesses that go unnoticed. Have the Saints regained their Super Bowl form from a couple of seasons ago? If they win tonight, they're 8-3...which at least suggests they're a real threat to Green Bay and San Francisco at the top of the NFC. On the other hand, if New Orleans hasn't been in many big TV games, they must not be playing many tough opponents. Is this a 6-5 team that's benefitted from a soft schedule?
I don't want to say too much about the situation because it might give away who my pick is for clients in tonight's game. I had originally planned to use my New York roots to talk about Eli Manning's strength and weaknesses in this game...but that theme really would have given it away! I'll make these points:
New Orleans went toe-to-toe with Green Bay on the road to open the season, and that looks even better now than it did at the time with the Packers sitting at 11-0.
New Orleans followed that up with a 30-13 home win over Chicago, which ALSO looks even better now than it did at the time given how well the Bears were playing before Jay Cutler got hurt.
New Orleans beat Houston, who sat at the top of many computer ratings systems before Matt Schaub got hurt. That's a pretty potent season opening trio considering the caliber of opposition.
New Orleans survived Atlanta in overtime on the road the last time they took the field. Atlanta has a good chance of being a playoff team...so you can call that another strong outing against a top-flight team.
Unfortunately, the Saints have been playing to the level of their competition. Or, amazingly...they're playing better than many good teams but worse than many bad teams! New Orleans suffered a humiliating road loss to St. Louis, who is just flat awful this year. They also lost to disappointing Tampa Bay. They barely got by Carolina on the road...and the rest of the league has been solving Carolina on a regular basis.
So, which Saints team is going to show up Monday Night? The one that can play with anybody and who absolutely annihilated Indianapolis? Or, the sluggish, awkward group that has settled for field goals way too often in other games, and couldn't even take out the woeful Rams?
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