NEW ORLEANS — Which of the following two scenarios would have been more preposterous in August? LSU goes undefeated because Joe Burrow is going to have the greatest single season by a quarterback in Southeastern Conference history, or the New Orleans Saints start 10-2 while Drew Brees misses basically half their games.
Neither seems totally absurd now that we've actually watched them happen, but predicting even one of those outcomes in August would have gotten you a room in a padded cell. But here we are.
It's the first full weekend in December and Louisiana is again at the center of the football universe.
On Saturday, 12-0 LSU faces Georgia with a chance to clinch their fifth SEC title since 2001 under their third different coach. On Sunday, the 10-2 Saints face the 10-2 San Francisco 49ers with the inside track to home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs at stake.
Like in 2018 when LSU hosted Alabama and then the Saints hosted the Los Angeles Rams with control of the NFC at stake, these are the best kind of football weekends.
2019 has unbelievably topped 2018 for football magic. Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 filling in for an injured Brees and LSU has a quarterback who has thrown for 4366 yards and 44 touchdowns. Burrow is going to win the Heisman trophy. It doesn't even seem real. The Saints and LSU are a combined 22-2.
Read that last paragraph again and let it wash over you like some early football Christmas gift from Santa.
LSU beat Texas A&M 50-7 and it felt as routine as taking out the trash. Why? Because LSU averages 48.7 points a game and dropping a 50 burger on some team's head is just what they do. This is as good as it's ever been if you root for LSU and the Saints. 2011 was close -- we won't talk about the ending there -- but 2019 is even better because this journey seems like some hysterical hallucination only created by minds filled with illegal substances.
It's fun to look ahead and think about playoffs and match-ups, but I hope you savored every last drop of LSU beating Alabama and the Saints going to Seattle and Chicago and destroying the Seahawks and Bears with Teddy Bridgewater under center.
Devonte Harris' punt return touchdown in Seattle and Shy Tuttle stiff-arming Matt Ryan will live in our hearts forever. The German television call of Tuttle destroying Matt Ryan is a gift from heaven. If that video doesn't make you giggle as much those two Germans you are doing 2019 football all wrong.
Yeah, the games this weekend will be nerve-racking, heart-stopping, might be elation or sadness, but the fact that our football teams are at the center of the biggest games makes it just so wonderful.
I'll be rambling about 2019 to my kid when I'm old and the Saints are terrible and explain 2019 is why this silly sport is the best.
Saints Fan Mood and Meditation Music:
Won't Back Down – Tom Petty
It's all so close now isn't it? Everything LSU and the Saints want is within their grasp.
The Tigers will be playing in reality what is a road game against Georgia in Atlanta and the Saints face maybe the team that has tormented them the most over the last 30 years. The 49ers broke our hearts in 2011, got a gift from the officials in 2014 on a Hail Mary to Jimmy Graham that wasn't, and I'm not even going to catalog the torment the 49ers delivered in the 1980s and 90s, we don't have that kind of time or pain tolerance
It's time to get this done y'all. No backing down.
LSU (-7.5) vs Georgia:
This is the most complete team the Tigers have faced all year and outside of Auburn the only one capable of slowing down Burrow and company. Maybe Kirby Smart has the magical formula to hold the LSU offense in check? I doubt it.
I believe in this LSU offense more than I believe in anything I've ever seen LSU football have.
New Orleans (-3.5) vs San Francisco:
The Saints just went 3-1 facing the NFC South and even though it might not have felt like it, Brees and the offense are very close to breaking out. If the Saints had just dropped like 2 fewer passes against Atlanta they could've scored 40.
The 49ers defense is very good but something tells me Brees is going to conjure up one of those otherworldly Brees performances where he turns a defense to ash.
The Saints, unlike Green Bay, are a terrible match-up for the 49ers because the Saints stuff the run. It's the one thing the Saints have down consistently on an elite level since 2017. If San Francisco can't run the football, then Jimmy Garoppolo is forced to win the game throwing, and he has yet to really show he's capable of that against a good team.
The Saints are going to crush the 49ers rushing attack and Drew Brees is going to look like he did in 2018 when the Saints were putting defenses on the torture rack and humiliating them.
Atlanta (-2.5) vs Carolina:
Sometimes teams fire a coach during the season and it gives them a temporary jolt and makes the rest of the season slightly better. Other times it's like not realizing you are pulling the plug out of the bottom of a sinking ship.
Firing Ron Rivera is the latter.
Miami (+5.5) at New York Jets:
The Dolphins set out to be the worst NFL team in 2019 and failed to even be the worst team in their own division.
Buffalo(+5.5) vs Baltimore:
The Bills are good. Not go deep in the playoffs good but 'Let's have fun December win over great team good'.
More Saints Forecast:
Ralph Malbrough is a contributing writer and Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at @SaintsForecast or download the Saints Happy Hour Podcast.
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