Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
We are nearly halfway through 2011, so what better time to revisit my awful preseason predictions? For all the people who hate me and think I'm clueless, consider this my Halloween gift to you.You can look back at my thoughts from August and then read on to see how wrong I was.
The cornerbacks will be the most analyzed, talked about position and cause the most yelling at your TV.
Tracy Porter has struggled, Jabari Greer has rebounded from an injury filled 2010, and Patrick Robinson is starting to look like the #1 pick he was. So far the positions, which have had fans screaming the most, are linebackers and defensive tackle.
Complaining about Scott Shanle is almost like screaming about your taxes. Everybody does it because doesn't paying taxes just stink? Shanle has been mostly what he's always been which is a usually serviceable linebacker.
Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin were supposed to give the Saints their strongest batch of defensive tackles in years. Rogers was going to deliver a stronger pass rush up the middle while Franklin was one of the best run stoppers around. So far it hasn't happened.
Darren Sproles will be everything we ever wanted Reggie Bush to be as far as special teams and receiving.
BOOM! Sproles is twice as good as I thought he'd be and I thought he'd be spectacular. Seriously, Sproles came in and he's the best running back the Saints have. Also, keep in the back of your mind come December/January that Sproles put the Chargers on his back for two playoff wins. I think late in the year if he stays healthy Payton will use him more.
By October all the teeth mashing and angst over the offensive line will be forgotten.
CORRECT! I will say if Olin Kreutz hadn't decided to quit then we'd probably still be arguing if making Brian de la Puente the starting center would improve the running game. Since Olin hit the bricks there's no need. Thanks Olin! Who says quitting isn't a good idea?
The tackles are still just adequate but Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans are back to 2009 road grater mode.
Backup safety will haunt Gregg Williams' dreams.
The thought of the backups to Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins starting still give Gregg Williams night terrors and this is a stone cold fact.This was supposed to be Malcolm Jenkins breakout year. He was going to become an elite, ball hawking free safety and the Saints #1 play maker. He's just been ok. Turnovers tend to come in bunches so let's not give up on him but he's miles away from the Ed Reed territory I thought he would be in.
Lance Moore and Devery Henderson will be the top receivers.
Horribly wrong, wrong like the earth is flat wrong. I thought the Jimmy Graham hype was a little over done. Graham is only having the greatest season any tight end has ever had.Who has more receiving yards Jimmy Graham or Calvin Johnson? I bet your first thought is Johnson and by a lot. Megatron only has five yards more. Graham is on pace to shatter the tight end record for yards in a season. He'll break the Saints tight end record for yards in a season in two weeks if he keeps up his current pace.
Graham is on pace to break the Saints yards receiving record held by Joe Horn (1399 yards in 2004).I doubt he gets to that number just because history tells us under Sean Payton/Drew Brees receivers are like Whac-a-Mole; guys take turns popping up and dominating.
On the other hand Graham is an uncoverable freak and teams can't solely focus on shutting him down because the Saints have so many weapons. My guess is he gets to 1200 yards but breaks the Saints record of 11 touchdown catches.
If the Saints haven't signed Drew Brees to an extension by November they'll regret it.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, 'The price goes up every week.' Seriously you could throw out any number and I'd think it was fair. What are the Saints without Brees? They'd be closer to Tulane Football than most of us would like to admit.
This is the last year America will think the Saints are warm and cuddly.
We won't know the answer to this for sure unless the Saints win another Lombardi trophy but America hasn't turned against the Saints as much as they've forgotten about them.
The Saints dropped 62 on the Colts, Brees goes 31-35, and the national media would rather talk about the Colts being awful or Tim Tebow, or pretty much any thing other than the Saints.
If Jimmy Graham were doing his thing in Dallas or New York ESPN would have a countdown ticker to the record.I can't be too mad at ESPN because I like the Saints sliding under the radar and they'll make up for ignoring the Saints by feeding me LSU-Alabama hype until I burst at the seem with a smile on my face.
Last Week: 4-1
New Orleans (-14) at St. Louis: The Saints finish up the Double Zero tour this week against a St. Louis team who has scored fewer points (56) this season than the Saints scored last week (62).Short of doing what they did in Tampa and give the Rams four turnovers I don't see how the Saints lose.
The Rams will try to run Steven Jackson all day if possible so this will be a good test for the Saints run defense.
My fantasy tip of the week; start Pierre Thomas if you are running back thin this week. The Saints will either sit Mark Ingram or he'll be limited because of his heel injury. Pierre is still really good and he might get a bunch of touches. Chris Ivory might be back so he's an option as well.
Sean Payton was seen eating a hot dog and dipping in the booth Sunday night against the Colts. Maybe Sean eating could be the new victory cigar for the Saints. Oh look Payton is eating a shrimp poboy that means this game is OVER! He should be eating a four-course meal by the early third quarter.
Detroit (-3) at Denver: My wife, a Miami fan, lost her mind watching Tim Tebow lead the Broncos back from the dead against the Dolphins. Having fans cheering Tebow in the Dolphins home stadium was too much for her to take. If there was an 'I hate Tim Tebow fan club' my wife would run for president. The only thing that comforts her is Miami is still in prime position for Andrew Luck.
Tebow throwing a football reminds me of my golf swing; it's awful to look at but every once in a while something good happens but it doesn't mean I can play on the PGA Tour.
Buffalo (-6) vs. Washington: Canada, I'd like to apologize in advance for the awful Redskin offense. Washington lost their top receiver and running back against the Panthers so even the Bills sorry defense will be ok this week.
Dallas (+3.5) at Philadelphia: Is there anything better in fantasy football than having to search the waiver wire to find warm bodies for your team because half your roster is on a bye and coming up with gold? I think not.This week I grabbed Tim Tebow and DeMarco Murray from the waiver wire and started them. I felt like I could run an NFL team Sunday night. I CAN SPOT MATCHUPS AND TALENT.Only I believed in you DeMarco!
Kansas City (+3) vs. San Diego: Something is definitely off with Phillip Rivers and isn't it time we had our yearly 'Is Norv Turner in trouble' rumors? I think it is. The Chiefs are this year's football zombies because they are back from the dead.
Will Todd Haley try to eat Norv Turner's flesh? Jon Gruden hopes so.
'Jaws, this guy Todd Haley loves human flesh. I MEAN HE LOVES IT.I call him the flesh bandito.'
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.