Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why the Saints won't be stopped shy

In the 2008 NFL season, the top three defenses were, in order:
  1. Steelers
  2. Ravens
  3. Eagles
None of those were legendary defenses. All three of those defenses have fallen down the board in 2009. In week 12 of 2009, the top 5 defenses are:
  1. Packers 281
  2. Jets 283.9
  3. Steelers 288.4
  4. Giants 290.5
  5. Broncos 295.0
Shocking isn't it? I would never have guessed that the would tell me that the Packers are #1 in total defense. Although the Jets have been good defensively... well... you know the rest of the story. I thought the Steelers would be a lot lower than #3. It should be noted that this is the yardage list. That is not very significant. As Dick Vermeil used to say: This game is about scoring points. Points are how you win and loose the game. If we look at the points allowed list, what does that look like?
  1. Bengals 174 (15.8)
  2. Cowboys 182 (16.5)
  3. Colts 184 (16.7)
  4. Ravens 188 (17.1)
  5. Broncos 189 (17.2)
On a quick side track: Did you notice that the Patriots are not found in either of these groups? Neither is Minnesota.

A close look at this figures shows nothing all that impressive. We do not have any legendary defenses in the NFL this 2009 season. Truth be told, these figures are considerably worse than they where they were last season. The top yardage figures are all much higher than normal (lower is better). The top defenses by points are considerably higher than single figures (lower is better). All of the teams with top statistical defenses have proven beatable, except for the Colts. Several will not make the playoffs (pick 2 from the Giants, Packers, Jets, Broncos). The Eagles, Jets, and Giants have already been smashed by the Saints.

To stop the Saints you must stop an offense that is on pace to beat the Patriots' scoring record of 2007. That isn't going to be easy. The Patriots themselves gave it a try and, well... you know... Who you gonna call? The Ghost Busters? If you pay attention to the plain figures, it would appear that the Dallas Cowboys would be the best candidate to upset the Saints, but Dallas gives up a lot of yards, especially through the air. They are number 21 again the pass by yardage. They are #14 in total yardage. That is a mismatch.

How about the most likely candidate? The Minnesota Vikings? The Vikings are #8 in total yardage, allowing 303 per game. They are #8 in total points allowed with 18.5. They are #1 in sacks, but they are #19 against the pass. #19 against the pass? That constitutes a mismatch. Riddle me this Batman: How do you rank #1 in sacks and #19 against the pass? The answer is easy: Your line is great and your secondary sucks. This is the truth about about the Vikings defense. If my secondary sucks, I really wouldn't look forward to a match with the Saints. If the DL weren't playing as well as they are, the Vikings would be #30 against the pass.

It should be noted that the Vikings played the Rams in the 1999 tournament. They were #30 against the pass. We were #1 in all passing categories. We smashed them. The 3rd quarter was a massacre. Something similar might happen in the Super Dome in 2009.

This is all a very long winded, reasoned out way of saying that there is nobody out there in the NFC who is going to stop the Saints from making it to the Super Bowl, presuming nothing drastic happens. Drastic is defined as the loss of Drew Brees or Darren Sharper. It will take a legendary defense to stop these guys. That defense does not exist in the year 2009.

In the year 2010, watch out for the Rams. We will have the next legendary defense. Coach Spags has already done magical things with our very slim crew. Just give him this off-season to recruit a few free agents from the Giants.

I got a feeling New Orleans is going to the Super Bowl