New Orleans Saints: Five Reasons They Will Win the NFC Championship Game
Five teams have never made it to the Super Bowl.
Time to make it four.
The media hounded the Saints for two weeks about whether or not they would be ready for the playoffs after finishing the season on an 0-3 slump.
After a 45-14 beating of the Arizona Cardinals, the answer was clear: The New Orleans Saints were officially ready for the playoffs.
Minnesota, you had your shot at the Super Bowl and went 0-4. Now it's New Orleans' turn.
Here are five reasons the Saints will be playing in Miami in two weeks.
5) Domeland Security
When the Saints are playing well, hardly any venue in the league gets louder than the Superdome. The noise inside the dome can be deafening, especially for a playoff game.
As do most teams, the Saints feed off their home crowd. New Orleans has blasted teams like the Patriots, Cardinals, and Giants at home.
While Brett Favre has the playoff experience to handle the crowd noise, this will be the biggest road playoff game for many of his offensive teammates. Expect the Vikings offensive linemen to break out of their stances a half step slower on passing downs as the crowd roars to its feet.
4) The Four Horsemen
Say the words "four horsemen" to any Notre Dame alum, and they will tell you about the famous Irish backfield of 1924.
While not nearly as famous, the Saints feature their own version of the four horsemen with running backs Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, and Lynell Hamilton.
Each player brings his own style to the Saints' offense. These players also allow the others to remain fresh for the entire ballgame.
Every football fan knows Bush: the quick-as-lightning tailback who can score on any given play.
Thomas led the team in rushing for the second straight season. He has the power to push a pile forward for a few extra yards and just enough elusiveness to make someone miss in the open field.
Bell, though not the typical size for a power back, is called upon to get the tough yardage.
Hamilton is the Saints' go-to back in goal line situations. He scored the first touchdown of the game against the Cardinals last week.
3) Playmakers in the Secondary
I know it's a little bit of an exaggeration, but it seems that everyone outside of Louisiana has been pointing to the Saints' defense as to why they will lose on Sunday.
I see their flaws too, but I don't see it being their downfall.
Nine players have either forced or recovered a fumble, and 11 have at least one interception.
Vikings castoff Darren Sharper has nine picks on the season and had another called back on a questionable personal foul penalty against Arizona.
Jabari Greer is underrated as a cover corner for three reasons:
1) No one outside of Buffalo had heard of him when the Saints signed him in the offseason.
2) Sharper's presence has overshadowed him.
3) Greer has missed several games because of a sports hernia injury that required surgery.
Greer was the primary defender on Terrell Owens when his prolific catch streak came to an end and was the primary defender on Larry Fitzgerald in the divisional playoffs.
2) Drew Brees
What's not to like about Brees?
He's what makes this offense go.
Brees' accuracy sets him apart from most quarterbacks. He broke Ken Anderson's 27-year-old record this season by fractions of a point.
What's most impressive is that he's accurate even as he continues to throw the ball down the field. Brees set a career high with 8.5 yards per attempt.
Once or twice per game, Brees makes a play in which he actually throws a receiver open. His throws can beat the best coverages, and he's perfected the back shoulder pass.
1) Sean Payton and Gregg Williams
Saints head coach Sean Payton has transformed himself this season from being a coach with a great offensive mind to simply a great head coach.
He has realized that he needs to have balance in his offensive attack even with Drew Brees as his quarterback. All a 5,000-yard passing season produced was an 8-8 record.
Fans grew tired of his trick plays after they failed numerous times in key situations. He now understands that there is such a thing as running too many trick plays. After a while, those plays no longer trick the defense.
He also came to the conclusion that his defense was killing his team. Gregg Williams has brought in an attacking mentality, and that has led to a league-high 39 takeaways.
With these two coaches leading the Saints, New Orleans will be ready to beat Minnesota.