Saturday, September 8, 2012
Black and Gold Week 1: Outlook on the Season
My friend Shawn has an advantage when debating the Saints with me because he predicted the 2009 Super Bowl appearance three months before training camp started. I’m usually not the type to shy away from proving I’m right but ever since then I have to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to what’s going to happen with the team. It’s going to be harder this year because we have a disagreement when it comes to the impact of Sean Payton being suspended. He thinks the leadership on the team and organization won’t affect the season. He thinks the Saints are going 13-3. I disagree with that. Before I get to my prediction for the season and tomorrow’s game with the Redskins, here’s what I think about the upcoming season.
I guess you can’t talk about the season without addressing the bounty situation. It’s either going to galvanize the team or eventually tear it apart because the biggest thing to come out of the entire situation is that the coach is suspended for the season. No one really knows what will happen when a crucial situation comes up during the game and Sean Payton isn’t there to make the decision. In my opinion, the lost of the coach is worth at least two games in the lost column.
There was no way the bounty situation couldn’t affect this season. It didn’t have to be as crazy as it is now if the commissioner would have just given everyone 2-4 games and moved on. He decided to be heavy handed because he has no one to answer to and now we have a mess. The media really did a bad job at investigating this story. They ran with whatever the commissioner said and at one point were mentioning lawsuits and criminal charges against Saints players. Now the suspensions have been overturned and the NFL will come back with lighter suspensions they think the players will except without having to go to court and produce evidence. Something tells me Jonathan Vilma isn’t accepting any suspension so Bountyate will be going on all year.
Last year the New Orleans Saints beat the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants so bad that by the end of the game they were trying not to score. 2011 was the first year that I actually felt like we were the best team in the conference and didn’t make the Super Bowl. That is why losing to the 49ers hurt so much. We gave that game way. The defense had two chances to make a play and stop Vernon Davis and they couldn't do it. I'm still shaking my head about it.
I’m having a hard time figuring out what happens this year. There haven’t been many changes to the roster. The biggest additions are Curtis Lofton and Steve Spagnuolo. The biggest losses are Robert Meacham, the coach, and Carl Nicks. We may have Will Smith and Vilma for a whole season but no one knows. The way I see it the season comes down to a few players. If Malcolm Jenkins, Roman Harper, Courtney Roby, and Joe Morgan play okay then there’s no reason why the Saints can’t win the division. The team played so basic during the preseason and the third preseason game against Houston so wild and crazy that you can’t get a good indicator of where things are.
I think the Saints have the talent to win twelve games. I am going to subtract three games due to Sean Payton’s suspension and say they will end the season at 9-7. Of course I’m going to find a reason for them to win every game this year and hope they go 16-0. On one hand this is probably the most motivated team and fan base in the league. Everybody is looking to stick it to Roger Goodell and show him that his suspensions couldn’t keep us from playing for the championship in our home stadium. On the other hand, this is an unprecedented situation and until a few games go by you don’t know how the coaching situation is going to work out. Then there’s always that problem with covering tight ends. That would concern me even if Coach Payton was there. I’m going to stick with my 9-7 prediction and we’ll see how things go tomorrow.
The Saints open against the Washington Redskins featuring Robert Griffin III. RGIII’s parents grew up in New Orleans and a lot of his family still lives here. That means I want him to have a Hall of Fame career. I just don’t want it to start tomorrow. I don’t know if the Saints defense is ready to make any offense look too bad so I will give them three touchdowns and say the final score is Saints 34- Redskins 21.
While I was writing this and watching college football Devin Walker from Tulane University was hurt on a tackle. He fractured his spine and stopped breathing for a few seconds. He’s in the hospital in stable condition. I love football and admire the players. I never want to see anyone get hurt especially with a potentially life changing injury. I wish Devon Walker a full recovery.