As I get older the thing I love most about sports is the thing that drives me the craziest; luck is a gigantic factor in whether our favorite teams succeed.
Don’t believe me? Bill Belichick is considered a football genius in huge part because in Super Bowls Carolina kicked the ball out of bounds, Pete Carroll didn’t run the ball from the one-yard line, and Atlanta didn’t run the ball at all in the second half.
The Saints won an NFC Championship because the Minnesota Vikings had 12 men in the huddle, Adrian Peterson fumbled like 900 times, and Brett Favre threw one of the worst interceptions we’ll ever see.
Lots of luck there.
LSU got to play for the 2007 National Title because West Virginia lost at home in season finale when their star quarterback got hurt. Pretty damn lucky.
In 2011 luck bit Les Miles and LSU in the backside as Oklahoma State’s kicker missed an easy field goal against Iowa State thus giving Alabama a rematch against a Tiger team that had beat them 9-6 during the regular season.
Luck is a cruel mistress.
What’s the point of recapping all that? The 2017 New Orleans Saints have already been pretty damn lucky. Can you imagine where the 2017 Saints would be without Marshon Lattimore and Ryan Ramczyk?
Lattimore is the most athletic cornerback I’ve ever seen play for the Saints and like a miracle he somehow fell to 11th in the NFL Draft because ‘reasons’? He supposedly had hamstrings made of glass or something, and Kansas City jumped the Saints to select quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who the Saints admitted they expected to select.
All Lattimore has done is gone a long way to solving the Saints problems at cornerback we’ve been complaining about since forever. Ryan Ramczyk is a much more interesting case about how much luck plays in sports. The Saints were all set to draft Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster with the pick acquired in the Brandin Cooks trade, they even had called Foster to let him know he was about to be a Saint, but then the San Francisco 49ers traded with the Seattle Seahawks in order to jump ahead of New Orleans and grab Foster.
The Saints instead drafted an offensive lineman who probably wasn’t even going to play much in 2017 because Terron Armstead and Zach Strief were starters at offensive tackle and didn’t the Saints understand they needed defense anyway? What a weird and horrible pick lots of fans and experts thought at the time. I’d argue we didn’t know it on April 27, but when the Saints selected Ramczyk with the 32nd pick, they probably saved the 2017 season.
Terron Armstead would hurt his shoulder before training camp even started and Zach Strief would get hurt opening night against Minnesota leaving the offensive line in potential shambles, suddenly that first round pick that didn’t quite make sense and the Saints kind of stumbled into with a lot of luck looked pretty nice.
All Ramczyk has done is start twice at left tackle, twice at right tackle, be solid, and allowed the Saints 38-year-old quarterback to not be broken in half. You know where the Saints would be without Ramcyzk? Starting Bryce Harris or some guy we’d never heard of at right tackle and we’d all be wondering if this was the week Drew was gonna die. In case you were wondering about Reuben Foster, the guy the Saints were going to pick, he’s hurt.
Do the Saints deserve credit for realizing their good fortune and grabbing Lattimore and Ramczyk when given the chance? Absolutely. Let’s just appreciate sometimes you just need a lot of luck in sports.
Saints Fan Mood and Meditation Music: American Girl by Tom Petty: I love Tom Petty’s music and I can’t remember the last time I was so upset over a person who I never met passing away. I’m not going to bore you with my insane Petty fandom, but if you liked his music go check out awesome stuff you probably don’t know like ‘Rockin Around (With You)’. American Girl is my favorite piece of music. If God told me today I had five minutes left on earth I’d ask for bourbon and to listen to ‘American Girl’, and then I’d ask for seven minutes so I could listen to ‘American Girl’ twice. It’s just pure magic from the very first note. The song even relates to what Saints fans are feeling this week… Like waves crashin' on the beach And for one desperate moment there He crept back in her memory God it's so painful Something that's so close And still so far out of reeeeeach Petty was singing about lost love but he might as well be signing about Saints fans’ dream of climbing over .500. Let that ending guitar riff wash over you and you’ll get chills, wanna dance, and believe this is finally the week Saints have a winning record.
The Games Last week: 3-2 Season: 12-8
New Orleans (-3.5) vs. Detroit: If you told me in August, “After four weeks the Saints will have 11 sacks on defense, be plus four in turnover ratio, not a have a single turnover on offense, and Drew Brees’ lowest quarterback rating of the season was 99.9.” I’d have said the Saints would be 4-0 or at worst be 3-1 because Tom Brady did some sort of miracle that caused a loss. Maybe the Saints are quietly a really solid 2-2?
Did you enjoy the Adrian Peterson era in New Orleans? At least C.J. Spiller managed to score one spectacular touchdown during his failed experiment with the Saints. Peterson was never going to be ok getting 9 snaps a game, no matter what he told the Saints to get himself a job. There were better ways to spend 2.7 million of Tom Benson’s money, but if we think of the Saints giving Peterson a nice signing bonus in 2017 as a thank you for the 2009 NFC Championship Game fumbles, his acquisition and trade makes perfect sense.
This week the Saints will try for the fourth time since 2013 to climb above .500 after a slow start against a Detroit Lions team that specializes in close games. 16 of the Lions last 20 games have been decided by one score or less, including three of their first four games in 2017. Detroit’s only win in 2016 by more than one score was against the Saints.
I still don’t think the Saints defense is good, but after watching them for a month, I’m very confident when they play teams with offensive line problems they will be at least solid on defense.
Guess what NFL team has allowed the fourth most sacks and is 26th in rushing offense? For the third straight game the Saints get the pleasure of playing a team with severe offensive line issues. It’s like the football gods gifted the 2017 Saints defense the weekly gift of facing a horrible offensive line. As far as gifts go, I’m sure Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is very thankful.
The Lions fan blog, Pride of Detroit, described the left side of the Lions offensive line as ‘a disaster’. Football disasters for Saints opponents are my favorite kind of disasters, well that and the Killers latest album. If Saints win Sunday, look for Dennis Allen to figure out ways to take advantage of struggling Lions left tackle Greg Robinson.
Calling every week a ‘must win’ gets old and tiresome but the Saints head to Green Bay next week, so beating Detroit falls into that cliché category if playoffs are going to be a realistic goal in 2017. My last two game predictions I said the Saints were eventually going to play a close game, third time will be the charm?
Carolina (-3) vs Philadelphia: The Panthers are 4-1 with three close wins, with their only loss a drubbing by the Saints. Cam Newton is the postgame interview after Detroit looked like ‘Where’s Waldo’ if he were a best man at a wedding. He’s the Michelangelo of horrible fashion decisions.
Atlanta (-10.5) vs Miami: If I made a joke about the Dolphins being so bad on offense it might drive one of their assistant coaches to do hard drugs, my editors would take it out and call it inappropriate. But I won’t do that; I’ll just ask you if you heard the latest Dolphins news…
Tampa Bay -2 at Arizona: Why can’t the Saints be in one these NFL divisions that are terrible? Like the AFC North? There is a good chance on Monday every team in NFC South will have a winning record. Booo.
Jacksonville (-2.5) vs Los Angeles: I keep an eye on the Jaguars because I have Leonard Fournette on my fantasy team and I loved watching him at LSU. The thing about the Jags you don’t realize is their roster is kind of loaded on defense. Did you know they are third in fewest points allowed? Jags 27-23
BONUS LSU PICK: LSU (+8) vs. Auburn: Listen to me LSU fans, if we don’t accept that this Tiger team has tremendous flaws and it’s going to be an uphill battle to 7-5, we are gonna be miserable all season. Being miserable about a 4-2 football team is a choice.
Maybe Ed Orgeron was bad hire, but there isn’t anything that can be done about that right now. LSU got into a mud wrestling match with Florida, didn’t complete a pass in the fourth quarter, and still somehow won. I enjoyed the hell out of a not very talented team fighting its rear end off. I hope LSU fans stick with them Saturday because they are going to need Tiger Stadium magic against Auburn. LSU-Auburn games usually get weird, so why not this time too?
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.
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