Tag Archives: New Orleans Saints

Red’s NFL Picks 2018(sort of) – Division Championships

After going 0-4 on Wildcard Weekend, Uncle Red decided to skip the poorly named Divisional Round but would probably have gone 3-1 (picking the Chargers foolishly) if he had bothered.  But he didn’t – so no countee!  But today is a bit slow and Red is a bit down in the mouth and what better time could there be to make some more foolish choices and almost cap off a season of sub-mediocrity in the prognostication game.

AFC Championship –  Chiefs over Patriots.  How can the Pats have possibly played in 8 consecutive AFC Championship games?  The odds of that happening in the modern NFL are pretty low – given “parity”, injuries, the odd bounce of the ball and bad calls.  But they have done it – so a tip of the ancient sombrero to Bellicheat and gang who call it up year after year after year after year . . . shampoo, rinse, repeat.  But notably, the Pats have only won 2 NFL Championships during that run and both of those were very close calls in which the opposition essentially self-destructed (Pete the Cheat’s absurd call on the goal line that kept the Seahawks from winning in the 2014 playoffs and the Falcons total meltdown to lose in OT after 2017 season.   Is there any real reason to pick against the Pats here?  Probably not.  The offense was absurdly efficient in destroying the Chargers last week.  Here is the one glitch in Perfect Pats Playoff Performance.  They haven’t won a road playoff game since 2007 and the only time they have won the AFC title game on the road in the B&B era is when they played at Pittsburgh in 2001 and 2004 playoffs.  First, no wonder Stealer fans have a special place in Hell reserved for the Pats.  And second that is, of course, ancient history in the NFL scheme of things.  However, more recent history does not look that great for the Pats.  They were 3-5 on the road this season and all 5 road losses were to non-playoff teams.   Bad weather will probably mean nothing to the Pats and will more likely impact the Chiefs wild offensive scheme.  The latest forecast seems to have the precipitation moved out by Sunday – but with brutally cold (below 10F) temperatures.

As for the Chiefs, they were Red’s preseason pick to win it all and he certainly is not going back on that call.  Mahomes is almost certain to win the MVP in his second season.  He is playing with confidence.  Even after the wild 43-40 loss to the Patriots in the regular season, it seemed to Red that the Chiefs were walking off the field thinking “Yeah, we can play with these guys” while the Pats looked like “What the hell just happened and how did we win that one?”  The Chiefs simply have to score early and often before the Pats defense makes the inevitable in-game adjustments.   And maybe just maybe the Chiefs defense is playing with some confidence after ass-whomping the Colts last week.  All in all it adds up to Red picking Kansas City 31 New England 24.

NFC Championship Game – Saints over Rams.  No weather worries here.  Saints have huge homefield advantage in the Superdome with a rabid Saints crowd.  If you haven’t been to a Saints game, you just really cannot appreciate how crazy that scene is for a big game. Yes, the Saints have looked vulnerable at times this season – losing to the Cowboys doesn’t seem quite as bad as it did at the time and the opening game loss to the Buccaneers seems darn near inexplicable now (the season-ending loss to the Panthers was meaningless).  But other than a few such glitches the Saints have been about the most consistent team in the league.

Meanwhile, the Rams only lost to the Saints, Bears and Eagles (all playoff teams) and they won the wild shoot-out with the Chiefs in week 11.  They clearly can play with anyone.  This just might be the highest scoring playoff game in NFL history.  And of course you ask – what was the highest scoring playoff game in NFL history.  Well, actually it’s a tie between the Chargers 41-38 win over the Bengals in 1981 and the Bills 41-38 win over the Oilers in 1992 (the game  which made Red never really care about the outcome of another game after that).  Both were overtime games won by a field goal obviously.  Red is not predicting OT here, just massive amounts of yardage gained and goal lines crossed.  Brees and Goff both have so many weapons at their disposal.  On defense, the Rams gave up 30 or more points seven times and more than 40 points twice.  Meanwhile, the Saints gave up more than 30 only four times and those included  the inexplicable (Bucs) and the meaningless (Panthers) losses of the season.  Given all of this, Red is calling for a “Don’t miss a minute of this one because you might miss out on 3 scores” doozy of a game.  New Orleans 45 Los Angeles 38.   

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Red’s 2018 NFL Predictions – NFC South

Today we move on to the NFC South – division which has produced two NFL Champions and a few runners-up.  This is the division of the nouveau teams as there is not a single member that predates the 1960’s.   But last year it was the “NFL Division of Excellence” with three teams advancing to the playoffs.

Atlanta Falcons –  This team was still smarting from the 28-3 letdown against the Patriots in 2016.  Still they had a 10 win season and made it to the divisional round losing in a low-scoring slug fest to the Eagles.  Pretty good for a team that finished in third place in their division.   There are no real surprises for this season.  There will be some changes on the defensive line and some help coming for the secondary.  On offense, new guard Brian Fusco shores up an already very solid line.  Freeman and Coleman are as solid a running back duo as there is in the league.  Jones and Sanu are about the same at wide-out.  Then there is Matty Ice.  Perhaps more than any other team, the Falcons fate rests in the hands of the ball handler. If Ryan returns to 2016 form (or even a close facsimile thereof), the Falcons will be flying high.  The schedule is reasonable favorable with the possible pathetic AFC North and the mediocre NFC East coming up. Atlanta wins this division with an 11-5 record.

New Orleans Saints – First a tip of the gold and black hat to long-time Saints owner and all round bon vivant Tom Benson who died in March at the age of 90.  He tried to buck the image of the No Fun League with his antics – but likely also bears some responsibility for the targeting and injury payola scandal that cost his coach a full season.  Benson also managed to create one of the most loyal fan bases in the entire league.  Red and family were in New Orleans for the OTNA’s home game last season and just about everyone in the city was wearing black and gold in some form or fashion. And just between him and you, Red has no problems with a gold lame miniskirt on the right person.   Red was watching at a local pizza parlor and when the OTNAs went ahead by 15 with just over 3 minutes left, it seemed to be an ugly Sunday night in NO.  But Brees led an incredible comeback to tie the game and the Saints won on a 51 yard FG with about a minute left in OT.  So Red is hesitant to say this is the last hurrah for 39 year-old Drew Brees as he keeps performing at a high level.  And with Ingram and Kamara in the backfield, Brees doesn’t have to do as much.  At this point, only Brady is better at reading defenses and getting his team in the right set.  And then there is this fact which may have slipped your notice  – Michael Thomas’ 196 receptions are the most by anyone in the first two years of an NFL career. Ever.  The Saints’ defense has been retooled over the past two seasons and this season will show whether the pieces are finally fitting together.  As for the schedule, it poses some interesting possibilities. The Saints start with a two consecutive home games against the weaker sisters (Bucs and Browns) and finish with two home games (Stealers and Panthers). That means they are on the road for 8 of 12 weeks in the middle of the season.  The three game road stretch beginning on Nov. 29 may determine the Saints’ playoff fate.  Red thinks the Saints are is still a Wildcard team at 10-6.

Carolina Panthers – Red once believed, but no more.  The 2017 season was tumultuous at best with owner Jerry Richardson firing GM Dave Gettleman weeks before the start of the regular season, followed by his decision to sell the team after facing multiple workplace allegations, including sexual harassment and racial allegations.   The team seemed remarkably unfazed and had a chance to win the division before falling to the Falcons in Week 17.  Still they made the playoffs but cratered lost a high-scoring battle with the Saints and went home.  The offense is probably there, but Red just doesn’t see this defense keeping the Panthers in enough games to keep pace with the Saints or Falcons in 2018.  It comes down to the last three games against the Saints, Falcons and Saints.   Carolina can’t close the deal and goes 9-7 and goes home.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Does Red really have to comment on this team.  Jameis Winston did nothing to show that he is the mythical “franchise quarterback” every team looks for.  So maybe it is a good thing he is suspended for the first three games of the season.   Note to JW:  Hell hath no fury like a female Uber driver groped.  The Bucs pathetic excuse for a defense (last in the NFL in total defense, sacks and third-down percentage) can only be better with the addition of former Eagles tackle Beau Allen and end Vinny Curry.  Whether tired old Jason Pierre-Paul had anything left in the tank is another story.  Running back is a question mark and only Mike Evans is the only true offensive superstar on this squad.  They will improve from last year’s sad 5-11 mark – but not enough.  Tampa Bay is 7-9 material at best.

Red’s NFL Picks – NFC South

Surprisingly, the NFC South (unlike almost every other division) is actually comprised of teams entirely from the South.  More fun facts to follow.

Falcons. You know how many times Red has picked the Falcons before giving up on them last season. That’s right – a whole shitload. And how did that work out?  And then last season Red finally wakes up picks the Panthers – who decide to suck while the Falcons finally wake up – at least until the second half of the Superb Owl. Take heart Falcons fans, Red can failure pain.  And despite their pathetic performance in Houston, Red is biting on the Falcons. It may be a collapse of judgment to pick this team to win the NFC South, but this fall apart from some questions about a Superb Owl hangover, the Falcons look solid. Choking the list of positives, they have Matty Ice and the same basic offensive crew around him.  Expect lots of bombs and dive plays.  There may be a few questions – suck gas what happens without offensive wiz Kyle Shanahan? And is crack-up quarterback Matt Schaub capable of tanking over if needed? What will their record be?  10-6 or 11-5? Just flop a coin and don’t sink about it too much.   Really, Falcons fans you should stop gripping, just say “Tanks” for a memorable season last year and hope for the bust in 2017.  Atlanta strolls to an 11-5 record.

Buccaneers. The Buccaneers have a decent shot at a Wild Card spot. Their 5 game win streak to close the season almost almost landed them in the playoffs where nobody wanted to face them. They look to have two elite talents in Jameis Winston and Mike Evans. Doug Martin remains a question mark – he is either great or injured with little room in between. Jaquizz Rodgers needs to take over as the Number 1 back. Adding DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard makes this a formidable offensive unit.  On defense, Kwon Alexander put up Defensive ROY numbers in 2015 and improved last season and the rest of the defense looks good enough to win a lot of games.  The Bucs have had trouble finishing off close ones.  Dumping erratic kicker Roberto Aguayo and bringing in Nick Folk may help in that area.  Look for the Tampa Bay to go 10-6 and make it to Wildcard Weekend.

Panthers.  Panthers are a sexy pick to with the NFC South despite their first to worst performance in 2016. Losing six games by 3 points or less will get a bad record. Red thinks the Panthers are sadly headed in the wrong direction as evidenced by the firing of GM Dave Gettleman in July.  Rivera’s job is on the line this season and his best work is not done under pressure.  They do have an easy loser’s schedule and will not be playing with a makeshift O line as in 2016. But lack of a real running game will limit Cam’s options.  CN does improve his woeful 52% completion rate last season, but it would be hard not to.  On the other side the additions of Julius Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn (perhaps Red’s favorite name in all of the NFL) will bolster a defense that distinctly underperformed last year.  Still it is a difficult climb back to the excellence of 2015.  The Panthers make it back a ways, but not a long ways.  Carolina fans can expect an 8-8 record at best.

Saints.  The Saints’ window of opportunity has closed. Not that it was all that wide open anyway with three consecutive 7-9 seasons.  Adding boy-beater Adrian Peterson might help, but probably doesn’t offset losing rising star wideout Brandin Cooks.  Last year Drew Brees refused to look tired and old. The ageless wonder completed  a league-leading 471 of his league-leading 673 attempts for 70% completion rate (who in God’s name completed more than 70% of their passes last season?) for a  league-leading 5208 yards (are you getting the drift here?) and 37 touchdowns!  Imagine what that could have done for a team like say – the hapless Texans.  Even though DB should be tired and old in his by-God 17th NFL season, he again refuses to follow the script and that alone will carry this team a long ways – just not long enough.  Saints cannot score enough points to make up for sadly sagging defense.  New Orleans slumps to 6-10.

Answer:  Sam Bradford completed 71.4% and Matt Ryan completed 70.1% of their attempts to edge out Brees.

 

Saints Showing Interest in Johnny Football?

NBC Sports is reporting that New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is possibly interested in signing disgraced former Texas A&M and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel as a backup to Drew Brees.

In New Orleans, Manziel would have no chance of earning a starting job, but he could earn a spot as a backup to Brees, where he’d learn from a veteran quarterback and perhaps get himself ready to be a starter some day.

Still, talking to Manziel and actually signing him are two very different things. If the Saints were convinced that Manziel was ready to put his personal problems behind him and contribute to a team, they could have signed him already, and they haven’t done so.

Johnny Football, New Orleans, Bourbon Street, Drive-Through Liquor Stores, Bars open until 4 a.m.   –  What could possibly go wrong?