New Orleans Saints: 3 Games the Saints Will Struggle with in 2011
Each season in the NFL there are games that no matter how uneven the teams may seem on paper, turn out to be wonderful games, while sometimes the ones we expect to be great turn out to be laughers.
Then there are those games each season when a superior team simply lays an egg against an inferior team. Last season, the Saints saw this happen twice—once at home against the Browns, then at the most inopportune time versus the Seahawks in the playoffs.
These are the games that cannot be predicted for days. No matter how much you expect team x to win, they do not show up to play. But I don't want to talk about these games, because frankly I am horrible at picking anything, especially games.
Instead I want to talk about the games that on paper seem like the most difficult challenge heading into 2011 for the New Orleans Saints.
Thankfully the NFL appears headed for a season, unlike the NBA, whose best players are likely headed for greener pastures in Europe and beyond. Because the NFL will play football in 2011, we can predict such games, and look forward, and later back, to these games.
Bring on the games people!
Game 1 @ Green Bay: Thursday, September 8, 2011, 7:30 CT on NBC
For the past few years, the Saints have struggled more offensively with the 3-4 defense than any other scheme they've faced. And no team in football has figured it out quicker than Dom Capers' crew.
With Clay Matthews—arguably the most effective pass-rusher in football today—Charles Woodson, B.J. Raji and a host of other very productive players, the Packers have the defense that can handle the Saints.
And that doesn't even mention Captain Obvious argument No. 1—Super Bowl Champions always win game No. 1. It's a rule almost as steadfast as the sun coming up tomorrow morning.
Yet, if any team were going to break it, it wouldn't surprise me if the Saints did it. They're champs in their own regard and play with a chip on their shoulder as big as Reggie Bush's contract.
Game 7 vs. Indianapolis Colts: Sunday, October 23, 2011, 7:20 CT on NBC
The Saints beat the Colts in an amazing Super Bowl two years ago. But the Colts won the last regular season matchup between these two teams. And the Colts tend to play their best football in the early part of the season.
Add in the fact the Saints, for whatever reason, play worse at home than on the road, and this home game is a bit of a disadvantage. Hopefully the Sunday night factor will shift momentum back in the Saints' favor.
Game 9 vs. Tampa Bay: Sunday, November 6, 2011, Noon CT on Fox
Two years in a row the Bucs have come into New Orleans and shocked the Saints for late season wins. Thankfully, this game does not take place in the final two weeks of the season, as the previous two games have. In fact, this game will be played before the Saints' bye week.
Hopefully, that fact will allow the Saints to attack this game and this opponent at the dome, instead of sitting back not concerned about winning. Josh Freeman and Co. seem as if they are a team on the rise, and will be gunning for Brees and the Saints again.
The black and gold should have revenge on their mind this time. Let's just hope it's not revenge from a Week-6 loss. My prediction is that the October game at Tampa will swing the Saints' way. For whatever reason, the road team always tends to win when these two teams play one another.