From Super Bowl To Super Slide: Can the Saints Repeat Success in 2010?
Many people say that the hardest feat in sports is attempting to repeat championship success.
Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against most teams from the very beginning. Fans doubt you, analysts doubt you, and statistically the chances of repeating are like winning the lottery—extremely difficult to do, but also quite possible if luck plays a factor.
In recent years, this debate has seen a wide variety of impressive teams try to overcome the circumstances. The 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers were quite possibly one of the few favorites to repeat championship success in 2009, only to see the very opposite occur due to a poor and inconsistent season.
In other sporting leagues nationwide, the 2008 Boston Celtics looked to be as strong, dominating, and forceful heading into the 2009 season—only to be stopped in their tracks by the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.
So as we count down toward September, the long awaited question must be directed toward Who Dat Nation. Can New Orleans repeat as champions in 2010?
Realistically, it's a question no New Orleans Saints fan is ready to answer just yet. Winning their first Super Bowl has given Bourbon Street enough of a party, and the mere thought of the 2010 season simply hasn't popped into the minds of some Saints fans, yet.
Now I hate to be a party pooper, but like everything, sooner or later the celebration has to come to an end.
In 2009, the New Orleans Saints looked unstoppable. Aside from Drew Brees' dominance, the Saints defense stepped up in a way that left every fan hoping for much of the same in years to come.
So what does all this leave when looking at the Saints of 2010?
Well quite frankly, the chances of New Orleans repeating this season can be summed up in three simple, yet concerning points.
3. The Reggie Bush Concern
In 2009, I willingly jumped on the bandwagon of Reggie Bush when he was doing well. Toward New Orleans' impressive playoff stretch, not only did Reggie Bush's ability finally shine through, it seemed that his confidence shifted into fifth gear as he managed to put together consecutive impressive drives.
Unfortunately though, Reggie has a tendency to take his foot off the gas a little. No one knows for sure what to expect out of Reggie this season, and now that morale booster Kim Kardashian is out of the picture, perhaps Reggie's mind won't totally be on the game.
With that said, is it reasonable to assume that Reggie will bounce back and impress every fan this season?
I guess so; however, if history proves to be noteworthy, our expectations of Reggie may be left unmet once again by this time next year.
If the Saints are to repeat, Reggie needs to at least have a handful of great games. In 2009, Reggie rushed for 390 yards and five touchdowns, while playing a total of 14 games. Although these stats may seem dismal to some, Reggie's catching ability also helps New Orleans immensely toward the midway point in the season.
If Reggie has a poor start to the season, that won't totally write New Orleans out of the playoff picture. Instead, Reggie needs to heat up toward the postseason if New Orleans are likely to make it, as that is when the Saints will desperately need a running game.
2. The Lack of Interest from the Media
In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, it seemed just about anyone who is anyone had jumped on the Saints bandwagon.
Thinking back, numerous talk shows featured celebrities sporting Drew Brees' No. 9 jersey, as most people were in favor of the Saints finally capturing a piece of Super Bowl history.
As heartwarming as this truly was, will we see the same kind of Saints popularity this season?
Sure loyal Saints supporters will be truly behind their team; however, now that New Orleans has won it all and seemingly made up for the devastating path of destruction left by Hurricane Katrina, perhaps some of the attention will disappear.
Whether this will affect New Orleans is questionable. But now that the hype has died down, I guess you could say the Saints are now just like everybody else.
They've won it all, they've raised the Lombardi Trophy, and now the media can finally stop debating about whether or not Drew Brees will remain a ringless quarterback.
This factor may not zap the confidence right out of the Saints, but surely the support did push New Orleans over the edge a little in the long run.
1. The Atlanta Falcons
Saints fans won't like this, but the harsh reality that faces the Saints is that the NFC South is a tough division.
Last year the Atlanta Falcons appeared to be a pushover team. Finishing 9-7 wasn't overly disappointing, but considering the Saints' dominance and stranglehold on the NFC South, the Falcons 2009 campaign more or less went to waste.
So what should we expect this season?
Easy, a new-looking Falcons team. Michael Turner is back, Matt Ryan is still a sure-handed quarterback, and Atlanta's grudge for the top spot is enough to convince many people they are still a contender.
In 2010, don't expect New Orleans to take this division quite so easily. Aside from Atlanta, a case could be made that Carolina may indeed surprise a few people and still rally for the top seed.
It's a tough division, and at the end of the day any one of these teams has the ability to win the crown. Expect it to be a tight race to the finish.
So will the Saints repeat?
Right now, the safe answer is no. Sure the talent is still there, and the 2009 Super Bowl winning team is pretty much still intact. However, considering the statistical disadvantage, along with the overwhelming odds, New Orleans may be a step away from repeating.
Who knows, though? Confidence can do funny things. Perhaps New Orleans will make it all the way back to the big stage, and once again hoist the Lombardi Trophy high above their heads.
But 2010 marks a new year, and a new decade, and more importantly, a new shot for many other contenders. The Saints are still a Super Bowl threat, but it will take some convincing for people to believe they will repeat.
Ryan Cook is a Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report . He is also an NFL writer for Real Sports Net , and Green Bay Packer writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters . Don't forget to follow him on Twitter .
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