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Forecast: Saints will freeze & fail in Cleveland

This feels like an absolutely terrible match-up for the Saints.

HOUSTON — The New Orleans Saints are about to play a football game in Cleveland in weather that will feel like -9 degrees with wind gusts between 35-60 miles-per-hour.  

This game is going to be like traveling back in time to 1974 where the forward pass was exotic and possibly illegal, I wasn't alive in 1974, and don't know what was legal or illegal as far as laws or NFL rules.

This game is going to be borderline unwatchable. I can't wait to spend Christmas Eve watching this abomination. Let's get to it.

Saints Fan Mood and Meditation Music: All I Want For Christmas Is You –Mariah Carey

As Saints fans what do we want for Christmas? It'd take more than a miracle for Saints to make the playoffs. Maybe a quarterback who can stay healthy in 2023? A giant pile of draft picks from whatever team wants Sean Payton to be their next coach?

I'd settle for all the other teams in the NFC South to remain terrible in 2023. I've enjoyed the season long comedy that is the NFC South, I'm more than happy to do this all over again next year. Just have the Saints win it at 8-9 and I'm good Santa.

The Games

Last Week: 3-2

Season: 41-24

Cleveland (-2.5) vs  New Orleans: How exactly can we expect a Saints team that can't tackle or hold on to the football in perfect weather to do so while playing a game in 12 degrees, 35 mph winds, and snow showers?

This feels like an absolutely terrible match-up for the Saints...except these teams are equally awful at stopping the run. The Saints allow 132.6 yards rushing a game, the Browns 133.1.

Which team is more committed to tackling in the freezing cold? We are going to find out. Passing the ball in the cold, snow, and wind by Lake Erie is going to be as appealing as the veggie tray at your office Christmas party.

The Saints probably won't do it, but if there was ever a week to just line Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara up at quarterback, this would be the week. See if the Browns are up for tackling the 220-pound freight train known as Taysom 20 times. Pete Carmichael Jr., let’s get weird.

Anything not involving a hand-off or run in this game is a potential calamity. Punts and field goals? LOLZ.

If you told me the Saints would score 13 points I'd take it and hope for the best.

The Browns running back Nick Chubb didn't practice Tuesday because of a hurt foot, but Cleveland has plenty of running backs so it likely won't be much of issue if he can't go.

The Saints on the other hand are a misadventure in 2022 no matter who is carrying the football.

The Saints have played one good game from start to finish in 2022, their Week 8 shutout win against Las Vegas.

We know how Saturday is going to go – the Saints will fumble early – the defense will fight hard and hold the Browns to no points or a field goal. Then the Saints will fumble again. And again. The freezing cold is going to exacerbate all the Saints worst qualities in 2022. Expect self-inflicted wounds, poor tackling, and Dennis Allen will probably be super conservative when he needs to be aggressive.

We've seen this movie 14 times. The Saints will also play incredibly hard, like they always do, and never be out of the game, but at no point will we ever believe winning is possible.

Don't let the Saints ruin your Christmas weekend.

Browns 12-3

Tampa Bay (-5.5) at Arizona: The Saints losing in Cleveland won't even matter because the Bucs get to play a team even they can't lose to. The Cardinals will be playing their 3rd string quarterback and are without their top 3 corners. Layup for Brady.

Bucs 27-13

Cincinnati (-3.5) at New England: The Patriots lost in such ridiculously stupid fashion in Las Vegas, I'm stunned the Saints weren't involved. If the Saints ever lost like that I'd just melt into a puddle.

Bengals 20-7

Detroit (-2.5) at Carolina: Here's how bad the NFC South is – I'm certain Andy Dalton is the best quarterback in the division right now.

Lions 30-14

Philadelphia (+5.5) at Dallas: It'd be good for the Saints if the Eagles win because the Cowboys collapsing raises the price for Sean Payton and the Eagles clinching the #1 seed in NFC means they might not need to bury the Saints next week.

 Eagles 31-17

Ralph Malbrough is a contributing writer and Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at saintshappyhour@gmail.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at @SaintsForecast or download the Saints Happy Hour Podcast.

(Warning: The Saints Happy Hour Podcast may contain language that is not suitable for all audiences) 

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