The NFL has turned into this week by week charade of popularity and praise so much, that two teams that were once undefeated at 13-0, are now being doubted by many whether they will win their first games of the postseason. In a league where we get caught up in the moment, the final weeks of the season were pretty dramatic when it came to seeding in the NFC and who would earn Wild Card's berths in the AFC.
About a month after both the 13-0 New Orleans Saints looked disinterested in their lost to the Dallas Cowboys 38-17 on Monday Night Football , many football critics have all but written them off in the NFC. The Indianapolis Colts pushed their run to 14-0 but pulled the plugs in the second half of a game at home against the New York Jets, and now they too are being doubted at home against the upstart Baltimore Ravens.
The Colts still tend to be a pick to win because of their quarterback, Peyton Manning, but why not New Orleans, why not Drew Brees? The city of New Orleans and their team seems to be a week to week wonder whether or not they will get the coverage they deserve.
A city still in agony and still in a rebuilding phase has lost all of its love from the nation. People forget so quickly, it has been less than four years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and its surrounding area. I dare you to walk through those same areas which were all under water tomorrow. I promise you this: New Orleans hasn't forgot. They know the love disappeared.
The New Orleans Saints know that the love has disappeared. The football game tomorrow is more important to the city of New Orleans than it is to any other team playing this weekend. A team that has thrived on its support from within its city, will try to earn back that 'love' from the national media on Saturday. They definitely lost it after they became 13-1. The city lost it about six months after the hurricane struck the poor coastal city.
Yet, tomorrow the Saints will try to bring back some of what was lost by bringing the attention back on their city. Remember, as you go through any analysis of the football games tomorrow how many Americans we lost due to a lack of preparation and response to devastation.
Remember how the lives of the New Orleans residents still have not been returned to any resemblance of what they once were. And just remember how quickly love disappears in this country. It doesn't matter if it's undefeated football teams or a tragic hurricane, the media will move on and therefore America will move on to loving or hating something or someone else.
Drew Brees has one of the most accurate throwing arms in the NFL. He has led the Saints to score over 500 points this season while basically shutting it down the last three weeks of the season. A three-headed running attack led by Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, and Mike Bell have combined for nearly 2500 yards from the line of scrimmage this season (2486).
Their defense which ranks in the bottom half of the league has struggled a little to stop the pass at times this season, but they make up for it with timely turnovers. They currently rank third in the NFL in the give/take category at +14. After the loss to Dallas, Saints Head Coach, Sean Payton elected to shut down the ship until the playoffs.
The Saints led 17-0 over Tampa Bay before losing to them in overtime. Drew Brees completed 32 of 37 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown in the loss. The Saints then sat every meaningful starter for the majority of the game in week 17. They lost 23-10 to the Carolina Panthers on the road the to finish the season.
Why the panic? Again, this week to week, who loves who in the now has caused so much doubt among the teams that proved to be the best the majority of the season. The pregame shows need something to talk about when it comes to the very popular elite teams, so why not doubt the fact they rest their star players and anyone else with a cough, cold, bump, or bruise.
It does get pretty sickening sometimes the way national media twists the image of a team. Those images even have had affect on the odds of the teams in Las Vegas. Both the Saints and Colts are favored by a touchdown at home in their respective Divisional Playoff games this week, had you Las Vegas created those lines three to four weeks ago for these exact match-ups, they would have likely looked a lot different.
Arizona would have easily been a double-digit underdog to New Orleans, and Baltimore would have been approaching double-digits if not being there as well. People who watched the Arizona Cardinals put up an astounding 51 points last week against the Green Bay Packers should have also noticed that after the Packers horrendous start, the Arizona Cardinals could not have stopped the worst offense in the league.
Aaron Rodgers had receivers open all over the field. If you would have looked at camera from Rodgers helmet you would have realized why he tied the game at 45 in the final minutes. The Arizona defense is and was terrible. They may have came up with a big play to finish the game off, but that was not because receivers were not open. It was because of a bad start to the game and bad block in overtime.
The Saints have been lifted by their city after the devastation that still reigns down on many areas of New Orleans. And to put it another way, the Saints have given the city of New Orleans a little of hope. It may sound so trivial when thinking a football team could change the mood of an entire city, but I believe it is possible. I have seen how frenzy and belief can change the face of a franchise.
While Hurricane Katrina still affects many residents of the bayou, the United States pledges money to the residents of Haiti after their tragedy. Don't get me wrong, I feel for the Haitian population and the devastation that has occurred following their major earthquake, but I would ask any true American this. Where is the love for New Orleans?
A major hurricane ripped straight through the heart of one "our" beloved cities. There are still hundreds of abandoned and deserted houses remaining from district to district. Thousands of residents have not and will not return because of our lack of help in the rebuilding process. Businesses, homes, people just washed away by a lack of preparation, by a lack of love.
Yes love, I am rooting for the New Orleans Saints on Saturday and truly believe their city needs it more. Whenever the Saints have needed a boost from their fans to win an important game they have gotten it since the Superdome was rebuilt following Katrina. Once a home for so many displaced Saints fans, tomorrow it will be the site of love for the city.
The Saints are going to try their best to bring the town back to life again, and if it takes a Super Bowl to get some more news to be done nationally than so be it. One thing is for sure, within those confines of Southern Louisiana they have not lost the love for their city, they are proud to be at home, and are proud to root for the Saints.