The Saints travel to Atlanta and first place will be on the line in the NFC South yet the media and fan buildup to the game almost feels like a preseason game.
Maybe it's because we are all hung over from LSU/Alabama or the Penn State sex abuse scandal has cast a black cloud over all football this weekend. The former was exhausting and the latter is heartbreaking so if you're having trouble getting excited I understand and I'm here to help. It's ok to be excited during Falcons week and I encourage you to hate them. Having a strong irrational hatred of all things Atlanta is 40 percent of what makes being a Saints fan so incredibly enjoyable.
Oh and in case you forgot this game Sunday is HUGE. I won't drop the 'biggest game of the season' on you because only coaches should be able to repeat that cliche over and over. The game will be the Saints last chance to take firm control of the division. They botched their last chance with a four-turnover mess in Tampa.
If the Saints win they'll be 7-3, have a 1.5 lead on Atlanta, and be in complete control of their own destiny to grab at least the third seed in the NFC. If they lose they'll only be a half game ahead but essentially tied if you include the head to head. At 6-4 the playoffs would be anything but certain with this stretch of games (Giants, Lions, at Titans, at Vikings) following the bye. If Saints navigate that road 2-2 I'll be satisfied.
Never forget the Atlanta Falcons have committed the following crimes against humanity:
The Dirty Bird is no more a great celebration than me doing the moonwalk after LSU beat Alabama /old guy rambling
They let MC Hammer latch on to them in 1991 and extended his awful career five whole minutes. Google 'MC Hammer & Deion Sanders - Straight To My Feet' and just breath in the awfulness
They allowed Jerry Glanville to dress like Johnny Cash during games.
Those things happened years ago but wrong is still wrong my friends. I can't decide if I hate Falcons coach Mike Smith because he looks like someone who would hit on my wife or because he looks like a guy who would give back handed compliments to everything.
'Wow Ralph this column is tremendous. I bet you are going to get an A in fifth grade English class for it.' GRRRH I hate you so much Mike Smith.
Last Week: 3-2
Atlanta Falcons (pick) vs. New Orleans: I'm like an alcoholic when it comes to picking the Saints; I can't stop doing it even though it's the right decision. I so want to pick the Saints in this game. Something in my mind says, 'This will be the week the 2009 Saints burst through the door. There will touchdowns on defense, Drew will be better than Superman, and we will laugh as the Falcons get run over!'
The thing is we are in Week 10 and I don't think Brees throwing too many interceptions, and the defense not stopping the run and not getting any turnovers is a bug the Saints can correct. I think it's a feature built into the 2011 Saints. These problems won't be fixed, they'll only be overcome some games.
Another thing I'm concerned about this week is Sean Payton in the booth. I don't care what the Saints say it affects things. Maybe the Saints lose to the Rams even if Payton is on the sideline but there has to some disconnect between Payton and the team when he is watching from the booth. When momentum goes against the Saints Sunday in a close game will Payton be able help them get it back watching the game from high above the field? I believe it's doubtful. If coaching from the booth isn't a huge deal how come no head coach in the history of the NFL has done it?
2009 and 2010 were basically smooth sailing to the playoffs but don't expect it this year. After Sunday you'll realize the Saints are in an uphill fight to the postseason. The Saints run defense in its current form is not capable of stopping Michael Turner and until Drew Brees doesn't get crushed on the road, I'm not picking an offensive line who some weeks believes pass blocking is optional. Two weeks ago I told you not to trust the Saints on the road under any circumstances and I meant it.
San Diego (-7) vs. Oakland: The most important thing about the return of Thursday night football? No more Matt Millen and Joe Theismann! Our ears thank you NFL Network. Phillip Rivers is an interception machine but so is Carson Palmer and somewhere Mike Brown is laughing hysterically and not tipping his waiter.
Buffalo (+5) at Dallas: The Bills are the 2011 team I care way too much about. I have Bills throughout my fantasy teams and Chan Gailey makes me laugh when he talks because he sounds like a squidbilly. Hey Ryan Fitzpatrick stop being mediocre my 5-4 fantasy team NEEDS YOU!
New York Jets (+1.5) vs. New England: Bill Belichick has made a mess of the Patriots defense and now their offense has been figured out. They can't throw the ball deep and the only decent receiver they have is Wes Welker. How the Jets keep winning with Mark Sanchez I'm yet to understand.
Carolina (-3.5) vs. Tennessee: The Panthers are going to start winning games in the second half of the year because Cam Newton is too good to keep losing. I really wish Newton played in some other division so I didn't have to hate him.
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.