Why The New Orleans Saints Can Repeat As Super Bowl Champions
People seem to be patting themselves on the back when boldly making the claim that there's no way the Saints can repeat.
Well, that's not actually brave at all. In fact, given the the history of Super Bowl repeats and how statistically unlikely it is, it's a safe bet.
In spite of history, the Saints are actually in a great position to repeat.
There are so many things that get overlooked—things that were overlooked last season, but that were significant in the Saints' emergence as Super Bowl champions.
First of all, it's a fact that the Saints have the NFL's premier offense. They've fielded a top three offense for the past four years. Last season, their offense was ranked number one. Drew Brees led the league in passing TD's with 34 and set an NFL completion record with 70.6 percent.
In addition to the league's best passing offense, the Saints' running game has become one of its strengths. They finished the season ranked number six in rushing yards from scrimmage averaging 131.6 yards per game—without having a 1,000 yard rusher. Go figure.
Sean Payton is expecting RB Lynell Hamilton to have a breakout season, and he wasn't even the Saints' go-to guy. Along with the proven skills of RB Pierre Thomas, we can expect to see a more expanded role for RB Reggie Bush, while he continues his threat at PR (Punt Returner, that is—not public relations).
Yes, I do expect opposing defensive coordinators to plan better for the Saints this season. But how does a defense stop an offense with so many weapons and very few stars?
Defensive coordinators have become accustomed to big names doing big things. Well, with the Saints, there is no telling where the ball will go or who will be the star on any given Sunday.
Brees' favorite receiver is the "one that's open." In fact, in one scoring drive in the Super Bowl, Brees completed passes to seven different receivers. Brees and the offense had the same game plan all season.
With no particular player to focus on, defenses seemed confused and overwhelmed. In fact, to focus on one player is to get burned by another. Coaches had been viewing film all season and were, at times, helpless against the Saints. Many were never capable of figuring it out.
In week 11 versus the New England Patriots, Drew Brees earned a perfect passer rating of 158.3 while torching the Patriots for 371 yards and five touchdowns. Post-game interviews showed a shocked Patriots organization.
In the divisional round of the playoffs versus the Arizona Cardinals, a so-called "rusty" Saints squad trounced the Cardinals by a score of 45-14. "We're talking about playoffs!" (in my best Allen Iverson voice).
Super Bowl MVP, Drew Brees completed 82 percent of his passes. The Colts effectively prevented the "big play" but couldn't do anything to stop Brees' precision passing. Brees completed 32 of 39 passes, for 288 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Last season on defense, the Saints ranked second in the league in takeaways with 39, first in defensive touchdowns scored with eight, second in red zone defense, and first in interception return yards.
The defense is designed to create turnovers, and turnovers is the most important defensive statistic. Teams that win the turnover battle usually wins the game. That is an indisputable fact of football.
The Saints' unconventional style of "takeaway" defense caused problems all season long for their opponents. Multiple turnovers against a team with such a potent offense equates to an "L" more times than not.
The playoff run up to the Super Bowl was a display of the kind of football that the Saints played all season. Most pundits were fixated on the Saints' defense ranking of 25 going into the playoffs while ignoring that they play to create turnovers.
As a statistic, yards allowed is an outdated ranking system that most analysts continue to employ. They refuse to accept that the Saints' style of defense is legitimate, despite the correlation between turnovers and victory.
Ask Brett Favre or Peyton Manning if turnovers matter. Can people really be that naive to think that Tracey Porter picking off both QB's was a coincidence? Maybe so.
Prior to the Super Bowl, the Saints even talked about what they wanted to do. In fact, they shouldn't have had to. It was how the defense had played all season.
On the injury front, it is highly unlikely that the Saints will experience as many injuries as last year. On their first loss—to the Dallas Cowboys in week 14—the Saints were missing six starters due to injury—two on offense and four on defense.
Still, the game was competitive. This season proves to be a dominant one for the Saints as many important players return from injured reserve.
For example, Lance Moore, the Saints' leading receiver in 2008, barely saw playing time. Heath Evans, starting FB, was placed on injured reserve very early on. Jeremy Shockey and Reggie Bush both missed time to injury. Both starting CB's simultaneously missed multiple games, along with starting DT Sedrick Ellis.
Don't get me wrong—I accept that teams don't typically repeat, and I know that repeating as champions is difficult. But I also know that no team has ever lost its last three games of the regular season and made it to the Super Bowl—not to mention, win the Super Bowl.
I know that teams don't typically get to the Super Bowl having so many players on injured reserve, but I also know that in Sean Payton and Gregg Williams, the Saints have the best coaching tandem in the National Football League.
Obviously, the Saints are in a better position to repeat as Super Bowl champions than most people are willing to admit. People were in denial last season, and I expect more of the same this season.
I am, however, willing to state with confidence that the New Orleans Saints will once again hoist the Lombardi Trophy—as Super Bowl XLV Champions!
And for the record, just like I called it for Super Bowl XLIV, I'm not making a prediction. I'm merely stating the obvious.
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