Friday, January 07, 2011

10 

The experts' Super Bowl predictions say the Saints have a one in ten chance to win it all, and they're favored to beat Seattle by around ten points.

So ten's our lucky number, right?

Ehh, I'm not so sure.

Putting that number in perspective, last year's (better) Saints were 7 point home playoff favorites against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were tired and had to play in the Superdome against a rested team coming off two weeks preparation, and who were hungry to win after losing 3 straight games (for different reasons). True, the Seahawks are horrible-- horrible!-- but they might not play horribly in this particular game, in the elements, against a tremendously diminished Saints squad. 

I don't know about this. Popular opinion expects the Saints to roll over Seattle, and hopefully they will. But, honestly, which team do you think is more likely to surpass expectations? Which team will be more motivated to "go all out" and which team will feel less pressure in a close game? And won't the inclement weather more adversely affect the pass-happy, run-depleted Saints? Tomorrow's forecast calls for rain, snow and freezing temps. 

Despite the Seahawks' horribleness, it won't take many slips, fumbles, drops, bad calls, wrong bounces, or un-special teams play by the Saints to make this a very interesting, gut-wrenching game. The Saints beat only 4 opponents by more than ten points all season. (Last year they beat eight teams by more than ten.) Given the weather, venue and situation, what must you assume in order to think that it's likely the Saints will beat the Seahawks by ten tomorrow (for the second time in the same season)? Honestly, I'd like to know. Are you really expecting Reggie Bush to break out and run for 125 yards and 3 scores? Do you think Brees will throw for 350 yards through snow flurries?

I'll be shocked if the Saints run away with this thing, and wouldn't be surprised at all if everything is in doubt at the final 2 minute warning. Hopefully Seattle will help the Saints by blundering during crunch time. But right now, Saints minus ten seems like a very big, very ugly number.

Prediction: Saints 17, Seahawks 14

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Just as a theoretical experiment, look at it this way: the Saints dominated Seattle earlier this season, winning by 15. Let's charitably assume each team plays as well as they did in that game. But we subtract seven points from the score difference for the reversal of home field advantage (Dome -4, Qwest -3). Then we subtract another two net points because of numerous key Saints injuries. All of a sudden we're at a line of Saints minus six, and that's before factoring in the weather. Freezing rain, snow flurries... what net benefit do you give the Seahawks for those conditions? At least two points, surely, and now we're at Saints -4. Like I said, not a lot has to go wrong for a four point lead to vanish.

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