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Cowboys-Saints primer: Debunking the myths about tonight's big game

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; In a recent interview with ESPN, Bob Griese, the part-time quarterback of the only perfect team in NFL history, advised the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts to lose a game before the end of the regular season. He explained ...

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Old 12-19-2009, 02:49 PM   #1
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In a recent interview with ESPN, Bob Griese, the part-time quarterback of the only perfect team in NFL history, advised the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts to lose a game before the end of the regular season.

He explained they would have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl without the pressure of remaining undefeated. Of course, his comments had nothing to do with preserving the legacy of those 17-0 Miami Dolphins from 1972.

Glenn Guilbeau of the Shreveport Times debunked Griese's self-serving sentiment in this column, but here are three other myths that need debunking as you get ready for the Saints’ primetime matchup with the Dallas Cowboys:

1) The game means more to the 8-5 Cowboys than the 13-0 Saints.

Um, no. The Saints still have not clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, and their two-game cushion on Minnesota is smaller than it appears since the Vikings would win the tiebreaker. If New Orleans loses to Dallas, the season finale at Carolina (after a sure win at home against Tampa Bay) could become a must-win game.

Home-field advantage is huge. The Saints have been invincible in the Superdome this year, outscoring opponents 220-128, never trailing in the fourth quarter and leading for the entire second half against every team but Carolina. If they play the same way against the Cowboys, they will let everyone know it will be nearly impossible to beat them in New Orleans.

Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding another December swoon, this is not a make-or-break game for the Cowboys. For tiebreaker purposes, their next two games are bigger – at Washington and at home for Philadelphia.

Dallas can make the playoffs at 10-6 even if it loses its third straight tonight. The only help the Cowboys would need is one New York Giants loss the rest of the way. Actually, the Cowboys would still have a realistic chance to win the NFC East, requiring one Giants defeat and a Philadelphia loss to streaking San Diego next week (or a more unlikely loss to San Francisco tomorrow) to set up a winner-takes-all contest in Dallas to close the season.

All swoons aren’t created equal. As Peter King of Sports Illustrated noted in his weekly predictions column, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo has completed 68 percent of his passes for 950 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions in the last three weeks.

Dallas’s two-game losing streak has less to do with December than its daunting schedule of the Giants on the road and San Diego at home before facing the undefeated Saints.

2) The Saints are feeling the pressure of perfection

Not really. It’s more of a road “problem” rather than a pressure problem. Before beating Washington in overtime and holding off injury-wracked Atlanta by 3, New Orleans handled the spotlight pretty darn well in its 38-17 shellacking of New England the last time it played in the Dome.

After routing Philadelphia in their first road game, the Saints have struggled for stretches in five of their next six. They led Buffalo 10-7 entering the fourth quarter. They trailed Miami 24-3 late in the first half. They had to knock down a pass in the end zone on the final play to beat hapless St. Louis. They needed Shaun Suisham’s 23-yard missed field goal to survive in Washington. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma saved the day in Atlanta with two huge plays.

Almost all teams play better at home than on the road, and the Saints just finished a stretch of four road games in five weeks. If they struggle tonight, the pressure theory might have some validity. Until then, it is premature.

3) There’s nothing wrong with the Saints running game

Maybe, but Sean Payton’s answer this week failed the fact check. He explained the Saints’ struggles on the ground at Washington (24 carries, 55 yards) and Atlanta (26 carries, 95 yards) as a function of facing excellent defenses.

The Redskins rank 22nd out of 32 teams in run defense, and the Falcons are 23rd.

The Cowboys rank eighth, better than any team New Orleans has faced. Tonight will provide a good read on the real status of the running game, particularly if linebacker DeMarcus Ware plays. The Saints are at full strength with Mike Bell returning after missing a week due to a knee injury and Reggie Bush coming off his best game of the year (two receiving touchdowns).


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Old 12-19-2009, 03:00 PM   #2
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Re: Cowboys-Saints primer: Debunking the myths about tonight's big game

I agree, I don't think the pressure is on the Saints AND to all the pundits TV that keep advising the Saints to lose one, you guys are morons.

The Saints have NOT secured home field advantage in the playoffs. Until they do that, they have to roll at 100% full steam ahead. End of story.
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Old 12-19-2009, 03:33 PM   #3
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Re: Cowboys-Saints primer: Debunking the myths about tonight's big game

The Saints have NOT secured home field advantage in the playoffs. Until they do that, they have to roll at 100% full steam ahead. End of story.[/QUOTE]

Right on Halo
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Old 12-19-2009, 03:45 PM   #4
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Re: Cowboys-Saints primer: Debunking the myths about tonight's big game

Originally Posted by Halo View Post
I agree, I don't think the pressure is on the Saints AND to all the pundits TV that keep advising the Saints to lose one, you guys are morons.

The Saints have NOT secured home field advantage in the playoffs. Until they do that, they have to roll at 100% full steam ahead. End of story.
Touche'. A win this week against Dallas would set the Saints up for a HFA-clinching game at home against now 1-12 Tampa Bay (a team they whipped 38-7 in Tampa earlier this season). It would render the Week 17 game at Carolina meaningless for HFA, but very meaningful as far as regular-season perfection is concerned. And believe me, the Carolina game WILL be flexed to Sunday night Jan 3 if the Saints go into it at 15-0.
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