Forecast: Ralph had given the Saints up for dead; now he's dreaming big
One of my favorite things about following a winning team is creating fantastic playoff scenarios in my mind and dreaming about all the fun ways the New Orleans Saints are totally going 13-3 and securing a bye in the playoffs. People will tell you don’t get cocky, don’t look ahead, and take it one game at a time. That’s good advice for players and coaches, for us fans it’s nonsense.
While it’s great to live in the moment of this unexpected resurgence by the Saints on Sundays, I believe if you aren’t scrolling through Airbnb locations for a potential February trip to Minneapolis, then you aren’t getting full enjoyment out of this Saints season.
Some of you might be screaming at your computer, “Ralph it’s too soon! Don’t jinx it.” Or some of you might be thinking, “Ralph, you are only setting yourself up for heartache.” If the Saints collapse I won’t think, “It would’ve been less painful if I had just not looked at flights to New Orleans for January playoff games.”
I say embrace the dream. Last Saturday I took my kid to the park and while he chased ducks and swung, I conjured up a grand scenario where 11-2 LSU would make the College Football Playoff. Ridiculous? You know it.
LSU beating undefeated Alabama and Georgia on the likelihood scale ranked just ahead of a meteor hitting the earth this December or Elvis returning from his secret life in Brazil to run for President in 2020. Last Saturday at 6 p.m. LSU was on a three-game winning streak, my son was really happy chasing ducks, and anything seemed possible. The loss to Troy and Alabama being invincible were problematic in my LSU road to the National Title fantasy, but I figured if the Houston Astros can win a World Series miracles are real.
Did it happen? Of course not, but those 15 minutes where I imagined Ed Orgeron getting carried off the field after beating Alabama were amazing. I’m not saying to become obsessed with believing the only definition of success for the 2017 Saints is winning a Super Bowl, but if we can’t dream about it when they are on a six-game winning streak, when can we? So look at all the schedules of the contenders in the NFC and game out 456 ways the Saints can get home field advantage going 12-4. You know you want to. Trying to figure out how the Saints get the #1 seed in the NFC is 1,000 times more enjoyable than trying to create a pathway for the 4-5 Saints to get a playoff berth. We’ve all done both, the former is way better.
People say the last three years said I was too negative, and all I did was spread Saints DOOM. Guilty as charged, because the Saints always started terrible and never for a moment looked like a serious contender, but times change.
Are we getting a little ahead of ourselves? Yep.
In August, all we wanted was one more fun season with Drew Brees, and even though after 0-2 it seemed unlikely, it’s here. If the Saints make the playoffs in 2017 the season is success even if they get beat 125-7, but dreaming bigger is just too much fun not to do.
Besides, our Super Bowl dreams already happened once so dream BIG kids.
Saints Mood and Meditation Music: Too Many Zoos Warriors I’m a sucker for songs played during television commercials. My phone has entire playlists of music from commercials on TV. My wife finds this both hysterical and annoying. Too Many Zoos got internet famous in 2014, but you probably know them from the Google phone commercial. They are a self-described ‘Brass House’ band and my two-year-old thinks they are the greatest musical creation since the Spanish version of ‘Wheels on the Bus’. I can confirm his take is accurate.
The Saints are one win away from going two months without losing, and while this song might not have words, it conveys happiness, which is our mood right now.
The Games Last Week: 4-1 Season: 22-18
New Orleans (-2.5) at Buffalo: This feels like a terrible spot for the Saints. On the road, in the cold, against a team on 10-day break coming off getting their head kicked in by the New York Jets. The thing is, the Bills have the 30th ranked pass offense, and the 2017 Saints secondary crushes bad passing teams. If the Saints stop LeSean McCoy and don’t let Tyrod Taylor get loose scrambling or running the bootleg, they should win pretty easily.
At some point the blocked kicks, fumbled punts, and turnovers on offense have to bite the Saints right? The Saints aren’t going to go 14-2, so if they are going to lay an egg, against an AFC team, away from home is the best place for it. I’m still picking the Saints because good defense and a good running game travel well.
Mark Ingram is on pace to have the most carries and rushing yards by a running back under Sean Payton. The Saints identity isn’t a run it and play defense team, but if teams want to get down in the mud and have a low-scoring wrestling match, the 2017 Saints can roll up their sleeves and rumble like that.
Who’s ready for a defensive street fight in the Buffalo cold?
Atlanta (-3) vs. Dallas: Whether Ezekiel Elliott plays or not, this feels like a do or die game for the Falcons. They fall to 4-5 and three full games behind the Saints with seven to go and it’s basically curtains for the division title.
Jacksonville (-4) vs. Los Angeles Chargers: I believe there needs to be a Congressional investigation into Leonard Fournette’s benching last week. Millions of fantasy teams were ruined because Tom Coughlin wants to instill discipline or something. What about the innocent people Tom? You ever think about us?
San Francisco (pick ‘em) vs. New York Giants: If you’d have asked me to predict the team with the veteran quarterback that will completely collapse, the Giants wouldn’t have been it. I feared it was going be the Saints, and while I like Eli and all, better the Giants than the Saints you know.
Arkansas (+19) at LSU: The Tigers get the dreaded 11 a.m. kickoff after running into the brick wall known as Alabama. LSU still can win 9 games and go to a fun bowl, so still lots to play for in 2017. The Tigers are going to win but it might take a half to wake up. 11 a.m. kickoffs are worse than communism I say.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at Saintshappyhour@gmail.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.