Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
In two weeks we'll know if the Saints can't win the Super Bowl. The Saints next two opponents are the winless Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams. If they don't show significant improvement on defense against the Colts and Rams another Super Bowl isn't happening.
Let's play depressing football trivia! Which of the following statistics is the horrendous 2008 Saints defense and which is the projected stats for the 2011 Saints?
- A) 23rd in total defense, 26th in scoring defense, 393 points allowed, 30 takeaways (15 INT, 15 FR)
- B) 17th in total defense, 26th in scoring defense, 403 points allowed, 11 takeaways (8 INT, 3 FR)
Think really hard and remember 2008 had Jason David getting roasted at corner, Kevin Kaesviharn looking as lost in coverage as a five year old in a mall, and quarterbacks couldn't have been more relaxed in the pocket if they were at a day spa.
The correct answer for the 2011 New Orleans Saints defense is B. The 2011 Saints defense is on pace to give up over 400 points and create only 11 takeaways and 32 sacks. So basically they are failing at every important aspect of a Gregg Williams coached defense. No QB hits, sacks, or big plays. A whole lot of nothing.
So far the additions of Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin haven't amounted to much. Jonathan Vilma looks a step slow because of his knee injury, Malcolm Jenkins hasn't taken the leap to stardom like Jimmy Graham has, and the outside linebackers are in year six of not covering tight ends.
Oh and whatever evil spirit that has possessed Tracy Porter's body would you please exit? The aggressive ball hawking corner who has the two biggest interceptions in team history is nowhere in site. Porter looks like an old slow corner afraid to get beat so there is no aggressive play. Tracy you are way too young to look so old.
I'd argue the guy on defense having a good year is Patrick Robinson.
The good news for the Saints is the Colts are 31st in yards per game on offense and 28th in points per game while St. Louis in the same categories is 25th and 32nd. Here at the forecast we never knock a Saints win just know if in two weeks the Saints are 6-2 but had to win two shoot out games then we'll know the defense isn't good enough to go deep in the playoffs.
Last Week: 2-3
New Orleans (-14) vs. Indianapolis: Everyone says Sean Payton broken leg won't be a huge issue. So you are telling me a guy in his mid forties who works 100 hour weeks and just broke his leg and blew out his knee won't miss a beat? Sean Payton's day-to-day job just got about 5000 times harder and he probably won't realize the full extent until he gets to the office. I say this as a guy who has had physical issues before. Forget actual coaching, doing normal every day activities will be tricky and take more time.
Will Payton delegate stuff and if he does will it get done as well as when he did it? By the way, Payton can't even put weight on the leg until mid December so I'd say the over/under on games he will be on the sideline the rest of the year is one. I think Payton's injury will be the story going forward the rest of 2011 but I hope I'm wrong.
Part of me thinks the Saints, with their defense, shouldn't be favored by 14 points over any team not named Miami but I'm not ready to admit what I see. This defense can at least pull it together and create turnovers with players like Malcolm Jenkins, Tracy Porter, and Roman Harper.
The Colts have figured out on offense how to at least look like an NFL team with Curtis Painter under center. He's only thrown one interception in four starts. Indianapolis main issue besides not having Peyton Manning is their defense is a whole lot of bad. They are 27th in yards allowed and 28th in points. Of course the Saints are 26th in points allowed per game.
I think the Saints play mad and run the ball down the Colts throat. You read right, I think the Saints run the ball a lot against the 30th ranked run defense.
Detroit (-3.5) vs. Atlanta: I think Lions coach Jim Schwartz was right to be mad at Jim Harbaugh over the post game hand shake. On Monday everyone in the media was saying, 'Well that's just Jim Harbaugh being Jim Harbaugh.' Whenever someone says that it means said person is a jerk. Jim Harbaugh is a jerk. Atlanta's defense is bad and the Lions take advantage.
Denver (+1.5) at Miami: My wife is a huge Dolphin fan and I've convinced her to go all in for Andrew Luck and root for Miami to lose. She was torn at first but then I reassured her it would make things more enjoyable. The Dolphins are losing any way and this way at least you know it has a purpose. Hey Dolphins this is a must lose game in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes so don't go screwing it up by playing good football.
Kansas City (+4.5) at Oakland: If the Raiders were so desperate for a washed up, old, injury prone QB why didn't they call Brett Favre? He wouldn't have cost them two number one picks and he's as good as Carson Palmer. There hasn't been a quarterback trade this bad since Jim Finks traded a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick to Dallas for Steve Walsh instead of just signing Bobby Hebert.
Chicago (-1) vs. Tampa Bay: This year's London game will allow the English to experience Jay Cutler sad face. He won't be too sad because he'll be handing off to Matt Forte as Tampa's defense returns to being awful after looking decent against the Saints
BONUS LSU PICK!
Auburn (+21) at LSU: So LSU's best running back and best defensive player allegedly got busted for smoking synthetic marijuana and will be suspended. Is that like the synthetic oil I put in my car meaning it costs twice as much and lasts twice as long?
This is the week the Tigers need the Les Miles magic to escape. Don't ask me how Auburn keeps it close with no quarterback and a defense that got run over by Utah State. I just know they will, I feel it in MY BONES!
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.