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Wrapping Up The Regular Season

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Posted 12-16-2013 at 03:43 AM by BoudinSandwich

Well, I'm posting to this blog in the aftermath of the loss to the St. Louis Rams. The game was, by all definitions, a "trap game." Now, I know Sean Payton and a few players came out and said there was no way that the game against the Rams was going to be a trap game. They reminded themselves of the history with that team and prepared themselves properly. Unfortunately, the Saints had no choice on whether or not the game was going to be a trap game. It was well beyond their control. More on that later on...

There are a few things to take away from the game versus the St. Louis Rams as well as points I'd like to address to rabid, distraught fans.
  1. The NFL screwed the Saints with the schedule. There's a pattern to how they schedule games. For some reason, the league loves to schedule trap games against the Rams for the Saints. It's happened over and over.
  2. Whether this team admits it or not, they're absolutely exhausted from their schedule. Again, more on that later.
  3. This loss has nothing to do with the Saints' struggles with road games. In fact, I'm tired of hearing, "the Saints can't win on the road." People spout off that comment and feel good about themselves as if they have some kind of detailed knowledge about football. News Flash: Every team struggles on the road - every team. The Saints still post one of, if not the best road record in the NFL since 2006 (Sean Payton era). Take this year alone, they're currently 3-4, that's on par with the better half of the teams in the league. The Saints get held to a different standard than most teams and it's because they're so dominant at home. There is a clear visual difference of their effectiveness between home and away games. Again, though, it's the same with every team in the league. That's called "home field advantage." It just may be a bit more obvious with the Saints. Another problem is people are taking a couple of road playoff losses and letting that distort reality.
  4. The Xs and Os reasons why this team is getting beat centers around line play on all three fronts. There's been plenty people bashing Sean Payton's playcalling, but what they don't understand is that the offensive line puts him in the position to have to call these plays. At the moment, the Screen Pass to Thomas or Sproles is about 50% of our game plan because we can't protect long enough to do anything else. Defensively, we have good and bad games, but it call starts up front. However, even the bad games on defense are servicable - if the offense was even remotely rolling to the ability they're capable of.
  5. Hartley is an average NFL kicker. Don't blame him for what happened against the Rams. The Rams nearly blocked every single attempt. They were inches away from blocking the Extra Point. Again, this all goes back to the line.
  6. The Saints basically have the identity of a spoiled rich kid. When things are going in their favor, the world is beautiful. However, when something is slightly off, they fall to shambles and can't seem to be able to help themselves. Now, this does happen more on the road versus home. That still doesn't mean they're a bad road team. What it means is they struggle with adversity. Most teams do, Super Bowl winning teams don't.

I don't think anyone realizes it, but the Saints have it tougher than nearly every team in the league. ( NFC Strength of Schedule ) Go ahead and take a look at that link. The Saints have the 3rd hardest schedule in the league and that's not taking into account short weeks. You can browse that site and find the AFC SoS, but believe me when I say it's not even close in comparison to the NFC.

It doesn't matter what Sean Payton or the players say about not letting the Rams game be a trap game. They had no choice in the matter. Every game, week after week, is a big game.
  • Dallas - In Prime Time against a potential playoff team/division winner. Not to mention, Rob Ryan wants to stick it to his former team. The Saints had to (and did) play some of their best football in this game.
  • San Francisco - A hard-hitting, smashmouth slug fest against one of the best teams in the league. The 49ers have really stuck it to the Saints over the past few years, so the Saints had to play some of their best football to have a chance in this game - and they did.
  • @ Atlanta - We all know that these games are going to be close regardless of records. This is a huge divisional rivalry and the game was on the road in the Georgia Dome. The Saints needed to play solid, inspired football to pull this one out. And, they did.
  • @ Seattle - Now, let's face it, no one goes to Seattle and wins. Russel Wilson is undefeated at home. The Saints got a bit of rest before the game, but Seattle actually had their bye week. So, that's 2 weeks preparation that the Seahawks had. After getting amped up and playing 3 straight solid games of football against teams that pose significant threats, it's no surprise that the Saints dropped this one.
  • Carolina - After dropping one to Seattle, it would have been nice for the Saints to be able to regroup, face a scrub team, and have a little breather. Unfortunately, they have to play a playoff contender, division rival, and division crown threat all wrapped into one. Carolina was the hottest team in the league at that point. The Saints got no break, they had to play some of their best football again. And, they did to get the W.
  • @ St. Louis - The Saints are exhausted at this point. The Rams always give the Saints fits and, despite not wanting to fall victim to a trap game, the Saints have no choice. They've just been put through a ringer of a schedule and, guess what? They've go to travel to Carolina to face the division threatening Panthers again next week. It's just not possible to keep constanstly playing your A game week after week against playoff calliber teams.

There's so much that can take place in the next couple weeks, but the Saints have a chance to set things up for themselves. A win in Carolina next week means the Saints clinch the division and the #2 seed. ( http://www.playoffstatus.com/nfl/nfc...icnumbers.html ) There's no chance for them to get the #3 or #4 seed. A win against Carolina guarantees them the #2. So, if they win next week, the Saints can actually take a breather and rest up Vs. the Bucs at home. Then, they'll have a first round bye. Is this a Super Bowl caliber team? I don't know, but they do have the chance to set themselves up really nice for a shot.

A win against Carolina makes the Rams loss a total wash. Again, with the road the Saints had to travel, it's completely understandable.

A loss against Carolina, and the Saints' incentive to win against the Buccaneers becomes huge because playoff seeding is on the line. And, in that case, the battle may be too much uphill. What the Saints need right now is rest, not must-win games every week.

Win next week against Carolina, you get 2 weeks rest, and you can forget about the mishaps from earlier in the season. None of that matters in the 2nd season.

Lord, help me this week. I'm going to be a nervous wreck all week long.
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  1. Old Comment
    MaggieMayTB's Avatar
    Where do I send the check for the therapy session provided in this post?

    I suffer from post traumatic stress from the Ram game.
    A great weekend in St. Louis ended with tragedy.
    Posted 12-18-2013 at 07:27 PM by MaggieMayTB MaggieMayTB is offline

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