Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer

NEW ORLEANS -- All offseason everyone had a theory on what the Sean Payton loss would mean. Maybe it would be the offense would suffer because he is so brilliant at game day adjustments or perhaps his unique motivational skills would mean the players wouldn't focus as much.

After having a few days to digest the Saints awful opening week loss, I wonder if the biggest thing the Saints will lose without Sean Payton is their consistency.

My biggest fear is after six years of pretty much knowing what to expect from the Saints game after game in 2012 it will be Sunday surprise every week. You might get a beat down like the Redskins game or the Saints might look fantastic and look like the Super Bowl team we want them to be.

Watching an inconsistent football team takes years off your life. If you don't believe me, just close your eyes and travel back in time to the Jim Haslett era. The Saints could go to St. Louis and make a wild comeback on the Super Bowl Kurt Warner Rams and then go to Arizona and have 45-year-old Emmitt Smith run for 125 yards and two scores.

Maddening isn't a strong enough word. My liver still hasn't recovered from the Jim Haslett coached Saints. 'But Ralph,' you sayd, 'that inconsistency was all Aaron Brooks fault and Drew Brees won't be up and down like that.' Maybe. Or maybe the Saints are the type of team who needs a coach with an oversized personality, ego, and strong hand to keep them playing well.

I believe Sean Payton has incredible football instincts. He knows when to be aggressive and what buttons to push to win games. What was Payton's first instinct when he got suspended? He called Bill Parcells, a coach with a personality and ego as big as the NFL has ever seen. Maybe Payton called him because Parcells is his mentor, but I think a big part of why he reached out to the Tuna is he thinks his team needs a strong hand to guide it.

The Saints all said the right things when they announced Joe Vitt as the interim coach, but you'll never convince me he was the first choice.

I think we'll look back on this interim-interim coach plan and think, 'Why did any of us think it would work? Aaron Kromer had never even been a coordinator and the Saints thought he could fill in for six weeks with no head coaching experience. He wasn't even in charge during some preseason games, which probably would have been a good idea. Insanity.'

Sean Payton sabbatical spot of the week: Bulgaria

Each week we guess where Sean Payton might be spending his time free time. Did you know the world's first digital watch was invented in Bulgaria? If you've ever watched Andy Reid of the Eagles try to manage the clock you know he is not Bulgarian. The official currency of Bulgaria is the Lev. In a little known fact this year the Arizona Cardinals tried to pay Kevin Kolb with 65 million Lev which is probably like 56 cents in real America money.

The games

Last Week: 2-3

Carolina (+2.5) vs. New Orleans: One thing about Sean Payton was almost always the week after the Saints laid one of their few horrible performances they would bounce back.

An example would last year the Saints went to St. Louis and the winless Rams dominated their offensive line and they lost 31-21. The next week the Saints beat Tampa Bay 27-16 comfortably.

This week is a huge measuring stick on how much the Saints miss Sean Payton. If we see the penalties, sloppy play and no improvement on defense then it will be time to panic.

I'm in the panic kind of mood. I don't see the Saints defense stopping Carolina at all. It feels like Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams always have huge games against the Saints and against this secondary Smith might have 350 yards by the half.

I'm going to do my part to help the Saints win by starting Jonathan Stewart in fantasy if he's healthy to ensure he has an awful game.

If you thought you hated the Saints defense after RGIII just wait until Cam Newton is done with them. On the bright side I expect the offense to play very well. It just won't be enough.

Panthers 38-35

Tampa Bay (+9) at New York: The Giants secondary rivals the Saints in its horribleness. Why couldn't Greg Schiano be one of those awful college coaches like Nick Saban or Dennis Erickson who doesn't know what they are doing in the NFL?

Bucs 27-23

Denver (+3) at Atlanta: Letting Tracy Porter go doesn't look too smart after his fantastic performance against the Steelers but remember he averaged 10.75 games played as a Saint. When healthy though his ball skills are great but it wasn't a crazy move to let him walk.

In other news, I swore I wouldn't draft Michael Turner in fantasy this year but did it anyway and now he's old and washed up. Lesson: Never pick a Falcon player ever.

Broncos 24-21

St. Louis (+3) vs. Washington: You'll really start to be depressed around 5:30 p.m. after the Saints drop to 0-2 and the Rams are making RGIII look like a rookie.

You'll want a hug after you punch a hole in your wall.

Rams 20-16

Dallas (-3) at Seattle: Having to listen next week to all the national media say they told us so about the Saints being in trouble without Sean Payton will be made worse by having to listen to ESPN's 24/7 coverage of the 2-0 Cowboys.

You'll wonder what we did to deserve such pain.

Cowboys 29-21

Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.

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