Monday, November 30, 2009
Showdown in the Superdome
Who Dat? Dat's the Pats returning to the Superdome for the first time since their first Super Bowl win. Tonight could be the biggest game of the season for both the Saints and the Patriots. The Superdome is sure to be rocking as the Saints try to extend their perfect record to 11-0 against easily their toughest opponent all season. Meanwhile, the Patriots try to prove that they are still the class of the NFL despite their 3 losses. Despite the unblemished record, I think the Saints will end up losing to the NEP tonight. However, if the Patriots want to win, they might have to do it in a way that they are unaccustomed to; by running the ball.
Even though they were quite porous last year, the Saints have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and are playing great defense this year. TB12 is going to have his work cut out for him against a pass defense that has only given up 9 touchdown passes this year. On the other hand, the Saints rushing defense has given up 12 TDs and gives up an average of 4.56 yards a carry. BB is going to have to be patient, play clock control and grind this game out if the Pats are to win.
I'm sure that the Patriots are aware that they have to finish games after the Colts debacle, but the Saints are even more of a closing team than the Colts. While New England averages the most points in the first half, the Saints lead the league in second half scoring at an average of 18.8 points. Even if the Pats have the lead at halftime, they should play the second half as if they are trailing and keep trying to add to their lead.
While the Pats should look to run the ball, the Saints have a distinct advantage in the aerial attack. They have scored 22 times through the air this year, while the Pats pass defense has given up 14 TDs. The Pats run defense is significantly better than the Saints run defense though, only giving up 3 rushing TDs all year. The Pats will need to focus on the pass first and force the Saints to run the ball against wicked fat Vince Wilfork.
Despite the guidelines that I have laid out for success, I think each team will try to win the way it is accustomed to. That is, both teams are going to be airing it out. While this might appear to give the advantage to the Saints, I think that the Patriots will still prevail. My main reason for thinking this is that the Saints really haven't had that difficult of a schedule so far this year. Though they are 10-0, I think that their record is a bit deceiving.
A wise man once said, you are not as good as your best win, and not as bad as your worst loss. You are somewhere in between. That being said, the Saints best win this year probably came against either the Dolphins or the Panthers in comeback fashion. While their worst (near) loss came in a recent 5 point win over the hapless Rams. Sound impressive to you? Didn't think so.
Meanwhile, the NEP are playing their 7th undefeated opponent of the year and have beaten the Ravens, not required a furious comeback to beat Miami soundly, and drubbed the suddenly surging Titans 59-0. Their worst loss was a last second heart breaker to the best team in the league. This seems to be a bit better track record to me, so I think that the Pats might be on a bit higher level than the Saints. Despite that, I think the game will be a great one. Get your popcorn ready.
Patriots 38, Saints 28