NFL fans today are seeing Pete Rozelle’s dream of parody come to fruition. The structure of the NFL was to create opportunities for all teams to play competitively. The draft selection order is based on lowest winning team the previous season, supplemental picks are provided to compensate teams that take a significant loss of a free agent. Salary caps limit how teams can spend so no one wealthy team stacks the deck. Yearly schedules are based on schedule difficulty, allowing poor performing teams to play less competitive teams. And the results evident in early 2017. Of the 32 teams only 9 have less than 2 wins and only 8 have over 4 wins. That means nearly half of the teams are stuck in mediocrity.
As the league pushed to parody, we have eliminated the dominate teams – all be it for the Patriots, most teams have vacillated between good and bad. It appears the greatest impactors in the performance breaks down to schedule difficulty and injury. 32 teams have really impacted the depth of talent on each team. We watch players look like starters in exhibition season when they play against other similar talent – then they hit the field week one and the speed and athleticism catches up with them in a big way. Truer than ever – on any given day one NFL team could beat the other.
It appears the last three years have been injury MASH units for the Saints and for some reason we think we are healthy this year – until we look – Breaux, Fairly, Strief, Armstead, Unger, Anzalone, Kuhn, Sneed – the Saints have had their problems with injuries in 2017. I think the difference is shown in the improved roster the Saints have. The Bountygate draft pick penalty, pre-Jeff Ireland picks, and strong, but failed free agency signings have hampered the Saints quality at next man up. 2017 has shown us weather the storm better than in the past! This improved roster depth – built using draft picks- has been the quietest, most impactful part of this team. Talent is improved, and the team has gotten younger. And that is not just based on luck.
KEYS TO THE GAME
- Make Hundley look like a first-time starter: Defense must forget the hype they are generating. A team barely over 500 should never worry about a trap game, but the defense will show its maturity if it avoids a letdown today. Our Black and Gold defense must refuse to read and believe the headlines. They must stay aggressive and smart. Our previous defenses have often allowed rookie and new starters look like the second coming of Joe Montana. The defense cannot allow this to happen.
- Diversify the passing game: Ingram and Kamara give the Saints a strong pass catching duo out of the backfield and Coach has some great plays to get them in the action. Today we need to keep the Packer linebackers on their heels – and Fleener should be a factor, if he can be? Thomas is getting heavy coverage but a little vertical action from TEs and Ginn could give Thomas some room to roam.
- Do Not allow success to push us to defeat: It has been over a thousand days since our beloved Saints were over 500 – Coaches and leadership must keep this team humble and hungry. Breaking through this hurdle is a mile marker to success – IT IS NOT SUCCESS!
Prediction: What a wonderful day to get a win at Lambeau. I expect the offense to bounce back from two bad quarters last week and set the tempo. The defense continues to play strong and create possessions for the offense. The streak builds – Saints 37 Packers 20