Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer

Did the Saints hot garbage performance against Tampa make you worried about their chances of beating Seattle on Saturday? It should have.

Teams that turn the ball over and give up huge plays on special teams don't survive in the playoffs.

The Saints are far from being a disaster but winning their opening round playoff game is far from the sure thing you might think it is and a loss to the 7-9 Seahawks would be the most disappointing loss in Saints history. The only bigger joke than a 7-9 playoff team is whoever loses to that 7-9 team.

The Saints can flip a switch you say and dominate just like they did in....2009? Hoping for the Saints to show us something they haven't displayed all year is akin to longing for the past and denying the present.

But Ralph, last year the Saints lost their last three games and then won the Super Bowl. Two completely situations my friend because the 2009 Saints lost to a quality Dallas team, lost to Tampa when Garrett Hartley missed a chip shot, and forfeited the season finale in Carolina.

They showed in stretches throughout the season they could be dominant, like the first five games where they never trailed. The 2010 Saints have been a good but far from great team. They've used grit, guile, a solid defense, and depended on Drew Brees to bail them out.

Drew Brees threw an interception in his 12th straight game and the Saints finished the year with a turnover ratio of 6.

Do you know how many teams made the playoff that had a worse turnover ratio? The Seahawks, champion of the worst division in NFL history, is the answer.

The Saints spent all season giving the other team the football and amazingly lived to see the playoffs. I want to believe this week they stop doing it but the last four months tell me it's not likely.

Complicating the Saints playoff game Saturday is they got hit with a pretty good injury punch against Tampa. Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston, and Jeremy Shockey were already on the injury list and Jimmy Graham, Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Ivory joined them. Sean Payton will of course protect their injury status like the KGB in cold war Russia so we won't be sure who will play and who won't until right before kickoff.

I'm no doctor so I won't guess who will and won't play but I will say this about Chris Ivory; counting on him to be healthy and play the whole game is the same as expecting me to be elected president. Anything is possible but you haven't seen much evidence that either is likely. Chris Ivory is the Axl Rose of running back because he is sometimes spectacular, violent, and not long lasting in any form.

It's not all doom and gloom because the Saints just finished up the best two-year stretch in team history (24-8) and they do get to play the worst playoff team the NFL has ever created.

Last night's decent game doesn't make me less excited about the upcoming Charlie Whitehurst experience. He might have been good against the Rams but like a distant relative giving their annual New Year's toast things might seem fine at the beginning but can go off track fast. One second they are thanking everyone for coming and the next they are bringing up Uncle John's bond hearing, the yelling starts, and the insults fly. All of this is of course followed by demanding everyone sing happy New Year and then passing out. It's wrong to enjoy such a debacle but one person's embarrassment is my cherished memory.

I can't think of a better team to play in the playoffs but the Saints cruising to a victory isn't the mortal lock it seemed to be a week ago. The 2010 Saints have shown us the ability to make history. I'm just not certain it will be the good kind.

(Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at, find him on facebook, or listen to his Saints podcast at

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