Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer

We are at Week 13 of the NFL season and it's always around this time I get sad because we are heading down the home stretch of the season. We have less football ahead than behind us.

After this Saturday I won't have any excuse to not go car shopping with my wife. Saturday's not filled with LSU bludgeoning the likes of Ole Miss and laughing at Houston Nutt is a world not quite so sunny.

Thanksgiving weekend is usually the apex of the season, especially this year because both the Saints and LSU have been having very fun years. Did I eat my weight in rice dressing and pumpkin pie while watching LSU cap the finest regular season in school history? Of course I did.

I even get emotional about how I only have four more Mondays of screaming at Ron Jaworski and telling him how I hate him so very much. Ron, if you would just talk like a normal person you wouldn't make my ears bleed!

Pretty soon I'll have to do actual work at work and not just set my fantasy football roster. No more fan chats, laughing at Norv Turner drive the Chargers into the ground, or wondering if Jim Caldwell is still alive in Indianapolis.

After the Saints won a Super Bowl part of me worried I wouldn't love football as much after finally getting what I always wanted. The exact opposite happened. I love football even more and realize every time the season ends it's one less year of Sundays I have to watch Drew Brees, Sean Payton, and this crew put on a show that the future Saints may never equal the rest of my life.

I fear my winter will have to be filled with watching Chris Paul leave and begin the end of the Hornets in New Orleans so I think I better savor every Saints Sunday like a fine wine or in my case cold beer. Is it completely sappy, sentimental, and quite possibly unmanly to be this way about football? No doubt but just ask Colts fans how quick the good times can be over. From Super Bowl contender to 0-16 in the time it took you to read this column.

Don't leave us football can't you just stay forever?

The Games
Last Week: 3-2
Season: 33-22

New Orleans (-9) vs. Detroit: I asked in my Tuesday column how much defense do the Saints need to win another Super Bowl? The more I think about it the more I believe the most important thing they need to do is improve their run defense. They are 30th in yards per rush (allowing 5.0 yards per carry). The reason teams haven't been able to run them over is opponents only average 23 rushes per game against the Saints. It's hard to keep running the ball when Brees just dropped a three-score deficit on you.

The problem is their likely playoff foes include Chicago, Atlanta, and San Francisco. All those teams love to run the football and the 49ers do it even when teams get two scores ahead. If the Saints are going to go far they need to get that 5.0 yards per rush down closer to four the rest of the way. Rushing defense won't be a concern this week as the Lions are terrible and don't have any running backs you've heard of.

The key to this game isn't shutting down Calvin Johnson, it's stopping the really good pair of tight ends Detroit has in Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler.

The weird thing about the Lions is even though their passing game is very good they are awful on third down. How bad? The Denver Broncos with 'can't complete a pass Tim Tebow' is better at third down conversions. The Lions are big play or bust.

The Lions won't have Ndamukong Suh and even if they did I wouldn't pick them. Right now the Saints are the Angel of Death at home as they take team's souls. They look unstoppable on Poydras Street. The only thing you'll have to get mad about Sunday night is Al Michaels mispronouncing New Orleans 30 times. Somebody stop Al in the French Quarter on Saturday night if you see him and explain it to him.
Saints 38-17

Houston (+3) vs. Atlanta: Before you laugh at TJ Yates quarterbacking the Texans remember the Saints won a division title in 2000 with a nobody named Aaron Brooks. This was when Saints fans loved Brooks because he was young, new, fun and we liked that he smiled all the time. We would come to hate his laughing and backwards passing but in 2000 we loved him. Yates can hand the ball off, throw a couple bombs to Andre Johnson, and the defense will do the rest.
Texans 23-17

Chicago (-7) at Kansas City: Tyler Palko is such a bad quarterback I'm pretty sure he played for the Saints under Mike Ditka and his middle name is Billy Joe. He has the weakest arm I'm ever seen and I watched Danny Wuerffel in person, so I know weak-armed quarterbacks. Palko is a pick six festival waiting to start.
Bears 35-7

New York Giants (+7) vs. Green Bay: I have no rational explanation except if Green Bay is going to go 16-0 they will have to pull at least two miracle wins. Just when it looks like Eli has saved the Giants season Aaron Rogers will flush it down the toilet.
Packers 35-34

Denver (+1) at Minnesota: Seriously, if the Saints had Von Miller I'd walk to Vegas to make my Super Bowl bet. He's that good of linebacker as a rookie. He single-handedly murdered Norv Turner's career as Chargers coach. Oh and Tim Tebow is magical.
Broncos 17-13


LSU (-13) vs. Georgia: I'm taking my wife and Houston Cougar graduate to the Conference USA title game Saturday and if when I get home for the 2nd quarter if LSU isn't losing I'll be surprised. Georgia is going to come out and play great and then LSU will slowly and methodically suffocate them. The national media will commence crying for a month how boring LSU-Alabama II will be because both offenses are terrible. You've been warned.
Tigers 28-14

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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