A city still recovering from devastation, where some residents still don't even have potable drinking water, was given new life last night when all of its hopes, dreams and sorrows were channeled into a spectacular game of football. Last night, whether they won or lost, the Saints stepped onto the field as an emotional conduit for the entire city of
and it could not have had a better ending if it had been written by Disney. New Orleans
The tone of the game was set by the blocked punt and end zone recovery by the Saints for an early touchdown that surely had some Falcons conjuring images of voodoo queens. Call it voodoo, call it mojo, or call it Sean Payton, NO fully suppressed ATL and leapt to the head of their NFC South division while joining only 5 other teams who remain undefeated. The Bears and the Seahawks also went 3-0 in the NFC as did the Bengals, Colts, and Ravens in the AFC.
While skeptics still credit a great deal of last night's superior NO performance to emotion, the fact of the matter is this: The New Orleans Saints are actually contenders this season. I can't say that I believe we'll see the same level of defense in the coming weeks that we did last night, but the combination our offensive stack and head coach who can out-think any defensive coordinator in the league will definitely lead to some high-scoring and high-energy games.
Sean Payton and Tom Benson went to work early this year beefing up an offensive line the likes of which Jim Haslett dared not even dream. Drew Brees has an army of playmakers allowing for the varied battery of attacks we saw last night. Having the selection of McAllister, Horn, Bush, and Colston in addition to other dependables like Karney and Henderson makes full coverage a nightmare and constant guessing game for any defense.
Last night was not a matter of when but of how the Saints came marching in, and this diehard
fan could not have been more pleased. After such an emotional game the presentation of the game ball to the city itself was a gesture that touched the hearts of all of the fans who were dressed to the teeth in black and gold and had so needed a reason to celebrate again. While it's still just a sporting event, the sentiment carried out of the Superdome last night made it a game that transcended any other. New Orleans
Yes, they still have a long way to go, and yes, I will still probably be the only Saints fan at Shamrock on Sundays yelling my fool head off, but keep your eyes on this ball club. They aren't finished surprising us yet.
My predictions for the upcoming weeks: I firmly believe NO will be undefeated until week 6 when they face off with the Eagles after what should be an easy victory over
. The experienced vets of the team will need to focus on keeping the egos and confidence level of the rookies at bay if they go into that game 5-0. If they can keep their act together (unlike their undefeated streak in 2002 that fell apart after week 6) they should have a good chance at home against the Eagles to extend that stretch to 6-0. However, weeks 7 and 8 are a bye followed by a match-up with the Ravens which may well prove to be their first loss at home. Tampa Bay
Final season prediction: 11-5 and 1 playoff win.