The Saints Have Disappeared in the Calm Before the Storm

Kemic SmothersContributor IJanuary 9, 2010

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints talks with some players during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on November 22, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

On this first day of the NFL playoffs, it seems the New Orleans Saints have disappeared into the landscape.  But instead, they're enjoying their hard earned week off.

Despite having fought to a 13-3 regular season record and earning the NFC's first seed, the Saints have been all but written off as a fluke.

NFL pundits have quoted every possible statistic to show the impossibility of the Saints advancing to a winning Super Bowl XLIV in South Florida.  No team has ever lost its last three games and gone on to win the Super Bowl, they say.

The Saints lost to a talented Dallas Cowboys team in week 15, and followed that loss with another loss to the lowly and struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  And the worst part of all, they say, is that both of these games were played in the Louisiana Superdome!

Earning home field advantage throughout the playoffs won't do the Saints any good, they say.  And limping into the playoffs is a sure sign of impending defeat.  So, let's just move on to the real contenders and not even talk about the saints.  Thanks!

They've allowed the Saints to virtually disappear into the calm of a bye week.  The first round bye and the incessant chatter about meaningless stats has afforded the Saints the privilege to enjoy first seed while avoiding the media frenzy.

The Saints can relax, heal, and prepare for the divisional round without the barrage of speculative innuendo.  The media has forgotten the dominance displayed by the Saints in weeks 1-11.  It was not until the injuries began to show that the Saints attracted much attention at all.

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Surprisingly, it took until week 15 for the Saints to experience their fist loss despite having lost key defensive starters weeks before.  Creative schemes and opportunistic backups did well to compensate for the loss of starters.

The pundits and media types fail to realize that for the first time since week 9, the Saints will field its starting defense.  The return of cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracey Porter will allow Darren Sharper to return to his ball-hawking ways.  Expect to see that stingy defense once again.

The return of first round draft pick Sedrick Ellis will give the Saints that much-needed run stuffer on the defensive interior.  The full complement of linebackers returns to the field together again, allowing Gregg Williams to once again utilize all his schemes.

The offensive weapons, too many to count, will prove to once again be the difference between the Saints and every other playoff team.  Last year's leading receiver, Lance Moore, will return to the playing field, providing Drew Brees with the slot receiver he's been missing all season.

Jeremy Shockey returns to once again roam the middle of the field improving the Drew Brees' third down options.  Reggie Bush has learned patience in his between-the-tackles run plays.  The Saints will be dangerous in the playoffs by merely playing their style of football.

Sean Payton is aware of his myriad weapons.  He's also aware of what it meant to rest starters in the final match-up against the Carolina Panthers.  He accepted that the Saints could lose but certainly had his team prepared for the media onslaught.  And Payton undoubtedly anticipated the benefits of mass amnesia.

The positive fallout has been a media and potential opponents who feel the Saints have peaked too soon.  Many feel that the Saints pose no threat at all and are already eliminated.  Like I said, there's never been a team that lost its last three games and gone on to win the Super Bowl.  And who would have thought amnesia could be such a good thing?

Well, welcome to never!  But football is all about match-ups.  There's not a team in the playoffs that wouldn't experience match-up problems with a healthy New Orleans Saints offense.  And the defense is more than capable of causing problems.

The Saints will fly in under the radar, exhibit their customary offensive aggressiveness, produce turnovers and panic on defense, and dominate all the way to the Super Bowl!

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