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My Live Game This Week: Syracuse @ LSU
Don't be surprised if ...
  • LSU starts on fire after last week's debacle and jumps out to a double-digit lead.
  • At some point, the Tigers start messing around with penalties and other stupid plays to allow the visitors back in the game.
  • Add in the Tigers' lack of depth in the D-line, and I'm taking Syracuse and the 21 points.

Interesting questions

  • How much will Derrius Guice play and how effective will he be?
  • Will the Tigers reach their average of 10 penalties per game?
  • Will the absence of the two players suspended for the first half (carry over from flagrant fouls last week) hurt the Tigers?
  • Will Syracuse's fast tempo - they average 88 plays per game - cause the thin LSU D-line to wilt as the night goes on? (Temperature forecast as 85° at kickoff.)
  • Can Syracuse bring pressure on Danny Etling?
  • Which LSU freshmen will blow an assignment or commit a penalty?
More Optimism for Saints or LSU?

I'm actually more optimistic about the Saints than the Tigers.

  • The Saints have an opportunity to win their next two games and even their record at 2-2.
  • They play at Carolina, which has been offensively challenged this season. They're 2-0 but neither team they've beaten is as good as either of the teams that beat the Saints.
  • The Panthers are averaging only 271y per game, in part because Cam Newton has completed only 59.6% of his passes for just 399y.
  • Next week, the Saints travel to London to meet the Dolphins, another team they can beat, especially on neutral soil.
  • If Payton's club can even the record going into the bye week after London, they have a shot at reaching that elusive .500 mark for the season.
  • The New England game should not put us all in the dumps because the Patriots were coming off an embarrassing loss at home to start the season. They can pound most teams in the league.
  • The Saints must put more pressure on the QB but the rush can be improved over the course of the season.

My LSU pessimism is not about the next two games, which should be victories over Syracuse and Troy.

  • Instead, my fear is that the debacle in Starkville revealed LSU's fundamental weakness on both lines. The unknown factor is how many injured players will return and make a positive contribution.
  • Fortunately, the Tigers have three weeks to prepare for the resumption of a grueling conference schedule, which has them playing four more road games, at Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama, and Tennessee with home games against Auburn, Arkansas, and Texas A&M.
  • Before Saturday night, I would have been confident about victory in the three home games.
  • The question is whether the 37-7 thrashing, the Bulldogs' largest margin ever over LSU, exposed fundamental deficiencies that can't be fixed by coaching and practice.
  • Spring practice and the August grind are crucial in setting the tone for the season. Last year, Orgeron inherited a team after four games that had been molded by Les Miles. This year's team is all his.
  • So is the lack of discipline on and off the field (as evidenced by the numerous suspensions) fixable or is Orgeron's program fundamentally unsound?

Remember that "more optimistic" is a relative term. Neither team will contend for its conference championship, but I expect more success from the Saints than from LSU, which has the tougher schedule.

My Week 4 SEC Picks
Record after three weeks: 25-11 (Many games against FCS teams had no spread.)
Home team in CAPS. Point spread is consensus of Vegas lines.
  • Texas A&M -2.5 over Arkansas
    Aggies continue their winning streak in this neutral-site series.
  • Mississippi State +4.5 over GEORGIA
    Veteran QB prevails over young backup.
  • Kentucky +1.5 over Florida
    After winning at SC last week, Wildcats finally end 30-year Gator jinx.
  • Syracuse +21 over LSU
    LSU win but not by this much
  • Auburn -18 over MISSOURI
    Visiting Tigers find an offensive rhythm against weak Mizzou D.
  • Louisiana Tech +9.5 over SOUTH CAROLINA
    Gamecocks lost their best player, WR Deebo Samuel, for the season.
  • TENNESSEE -28 over Massachusetts
    Vols bounce back from gut-wrenching loss in Gainesville.
  • VANDERBILT +18.5 over Alabama
    Vandy D keeps game close.

    Interesting Numbers
    1911
    Last time Kentucky, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt were all 3-0 in a football season.
    1948
    Last time Vanderbilt defeated a ranked non-conference opponent before beating Kansas State last Saturday.
    1986
    Last time Kentucky beat Florida.
    16%
    Third-down conversion % of Syracuse's foes this season
    0
    Turnovers by LSU this season
    285
    Rushing yards by Mississippi State against LSU, which had given up only 63y on the ground in its first two games
    66-16 Combined score by which Missouri has lost its last two games
    1984 Last year that Vanderbilt beat Alabama and that was 15 years after the previous victory in an era when the schools played yearly.
    1 Vanderbilt's national ranking in pass defense, total defense, and scoring defense
    115 Minutes of playing time into the season before Florida's offense scored at TD
    3 Pick 6's for TDs for Florida's first TDs of the season
    2 SEC teams rankined in the top 30 in passing (Ole Miss, Missouri)
    2 Current SEC coaches who have defeated Nick Saban's Tide (Gus Malzahn, Kevin Sumlin)
    0-24 Combined record of the rest of the current SEC coaches against Saban at Alabama
Did You Notice? NFL Week 2
  • Sophomore Jinx Strikes Again?
    After a sensational rookie season in which he led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, Dak Prescott has started poorly in 2017. He has completed just 60.6% of his passes. Of course, throwing 89 passes in two games means your running game isn't clicking - just 169y in the two games as Ezekiel Elliott (8y on 9 carries Sunday) faces the distraction of fighting his suspension. (Sunday night, NFL Network commentator LaDanian Tomlinson accused Elliott of quitting during the game.) Dallas also fell behind Denver early in last Sunday's 42-17 loss. After the game, coach Jason Garrett put the blame on Dak. "When they play that style of defense, you have to be able to consistently attack with the passing game. ... We really needed to have [consistent] success throwing the ball. We were not able to do that." To his credit, Prescott didn't disagree. "If I make more plays, we give ourselves a chance in that game. I just simply didn't make the plays. There's no excuse for it."
  • Leonard Skynerd
    A week after gaining 100y in his NFL debut, Jacksonville rookie Leonard Fournette gained only 40y at home against Tennessee. Because the Jags fell behind early, he carried the ball just 14 times instead of the 26 in the Week 1 victory over Houston.
  • Other Rookie Downslides
    Other rookies cited here for their Week 1 success regressed to the mean in Week 2.
    RB Tarik Cohen, Chicago
    Week 1: 5 carries, 66y, 8 receptions, 47y, 1 TD
    Week 2: 7 carries, 13y; 8 receptions, 55y, 0 TD
    QB DeShone Kizer, Cleveland -
    Week 1: 20 of 30, 222y, 1 TD, 1 INT
    Week 2: 15 of 31, 182y, 0 TD, 3 INT
    RB Dalvin Cook, Minnesota
    Week 1: 22 carries for 127y (longest 33), 3 receptions for 10y
    Week 2: 12 carries for 64y, 2 receptions for 0y
    The most sensational rookie from Week 1, KC 's Kareem Hunt, who sparked the opening Thursday night upset of the Patriots, had another good day last Sunday.
    Week 1: 17 carries for 148y, 5 receptions for 998y, 3 TDs
    Week 2: 13 carries for 81y, 3 receptions for 28y, 2 TDs
  • Still Working Out the Kinks at StubHub Center
    With nine seconds to play, Chargers' rookie kicker Younghoe Koo lined up a FG attempt that could win the game against the visiting Dolphins, who led 19-17 at the 30,000-seat soccer stadium in Carson CA the Chargers call home until the stadium they'll share with the Rams opens in 2020. But the boot sailed wide right. Nevertheless, the staff fired the victory cannon. Just practicing? Koo had a FG blocked in Week 1 that would have sent the game with the Broncos into OT.
  • What a Way to End a Streak
    LB Lawrence Timmons had started 101 consecutive NFL games before being listed as inactive for the Dolphins victory over the LA Chargers Sunday. When Hurricane Irma scuttled Miami's opener against Tampa Bay, the team flew to California for a week of practice while their city recovered. But Timmons was not with the team Sunday. The Dolphins apparently knew where he was but would not divulge that information.
  • Really Bum Knee
    Minnesota QB Sam Bradford played one of the best games of his career against the Saints in Week 1 - 27 of 32 for 346y, 3 TDs, 0 INT. (One writer wrote after New England thumped NO in Week 2: "Last week, the Saints' atrocious passing defense made Sam Bradford look like Tom Brady, and Brady actually is Tom Brady.") Bradford sat out Game 2 with a sore knee and watched Chase Keenum take over for the 26-9 loss to the Steelers. Doctors have a problem treating Sam's knee because it has so much scar tissue from previous procedures that the MRI is hard to read. So why take a chance against one of the best defenses in the league? Pittsburgh had seven sacks in Week 1 and got two more against the Vikings.
  • Celebration Blues
    After Steelers WR Martavis Bryant caught a TD pass against Minnesota Sunday, he and teammate Antonio Brown celebrated by pretending to be playing a game of dice. Under last year's more stringent NFL rules governing celebrations, the performance would have drawn a 15y unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. But after numerous complaints, the No Fun League relaxed the rules this year. However, the two Steeler receivers forgot the companion new rule - that the 40-second play clock for the PAT starts as soon as the TD is signalled. So the Steelers, who like to go for two more than any other team, waited for the two to join them. As they finally lined up, they were stunned when the officials called a delay of game penalty. So they settled for a one-point kick. When Pitt RB JuJu Smith-Schuster scored a TD later in the game, four Steelers still played dicebut got off the field in time for the PAT.
By the Numbers
273
NFL games played by Tom Brady before he threw for three TDs in Q1, which he did against the Saints Sunday.
3
Turnovers last Sunday by Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles - two INTs and a lost fumble.
112
TD catches by the Chargers' Antonio Gates, putting him one ahead of previous record-holder for TDs by a TE, Tony Gonzalez
85
TD passes by QB Philip Rivers to Gates, putting them third in NFL history for QB-receiver duos
3-0
Zak Prescott's record against Top 10 pass defenses in 2016 before he laid an egg against the Broncos Sunday
22
DeShaun Watson's age on his birthday last Thursday when he started his first NFL game for Houston against Cincinnati
9
Starting QBs for the Texans since Bill O'Brien became head coach in 2014
128,251 Combined passing yardage by Tom Brady and Drew Brees - the most of any opposing QBs entering a game in NFL history - when they clashed in New Orleans Sunday
8 Consecutive games (including the playoffs) in which the Giants have scored fewer than 20 points after the 24-10 loss to Detroit Monday night
13-0 Seattle's home record in September under Pete Carroll (2010-17)
2-10 Seattle's September road record under Carroll
11-0 The Ravens' record over the last five seasons in games in which QB Joe Flacco throws 30 or fewer passes.
20-29 The Ravens' record in that same span when Flacco throws more than 30 times, including the victory over Cleveland Sunday when he tossed 34 but completed 25.
Did You Notice? NCAA Week 3
  • Not Again?
    After three weeks, no one would call you crazy if you predicted that Alabama will meet Clemson in the CFP Final for the third season in a row. After losing 11 players to the NFL draft, including QB DeShaun Watson, the Tigers dismantled Louisville on the road 47-21, gaining 613y, 106 more than last year.
  • Flags a Flutter
    The South Florida-Illinois game "featured" 31 penalties, 16 on USF for 155y, 15 on the Illini for 138y. There were also four INTs, three thrown by the Big Ten visitors. USF won go 3-0.
  • Surprise 3-0 Teams
    California - The Golden Bears' slate includes two victories over Power Five teams, North Carolina and Ole Miss . Three wins would have been acceptable for the whole season under new coach Justin Wilcox - that's how low the expectations were in Berkeley.
    Duke - After a 4-8 season, David Cutcliffe, one of the best coaches few people know about, the Blue Devils boast victories over Northwestern and Baylor.
    Iowa - Can't get too excited but the Hawkeyes have defeated Wyoming, Iowa State (on the road), and North Texas.
    Minnesota - New coach P.J. Fleck has led victories over Buffalo, Oregon State, and Middle Tennessee, that last one being the most impressive since the Blue Raiders beat Syracuse before falling to the Gophers 34-3.
    Mississippi State - The Bulldogs weren't expected to beat LSU. Now they're being touted as the second best team in the entire SEC. We'll see about that.
    San Diego State - The Aztecs have two Pac-12 scalps - Arizona State and Stanford. They have their sights set on a New Year's bowl.
    Vanderbilt - The Commodores upset Kansas State and started with a road win over aforementioned Middle Tennessee. After their heroes beat KSU, Vandy fans chanted WE WANT BAMA! They get them this Saturday on what will be just the Dores' sixth appearance on CBS's SEC Game of the Week.
    Virginia Tech - The Hokies were not mentioned among potential ACC leaders but started the season by defeating West Virginia, expected to be in the top 1/3 of the Big 12.
    Wake Forest - The Deacons should be 4-0 after beating Appalachian State this coming week before hosting the Seminoles in Week 5.
  • Surprise 0-3 Starter
    Baylor - The Bears got off to an even worse start than Texas when they lost to FCS Liberty in the opener. Then they proved the previous week was no fluke when they fell to Texas San Antonio, again at home.
  • Shell-Shocked Panthers
    Oklahoma State
    torched Pitt for 49 points in the first half with 516y of offense on 46 plays for an average of 11.2 per play. The Cowboys scored a TD on each of their seven possessions in the first 30 minutes. QB Mason Rudolph's 423y through the air was a school record but not an NCAA record. That distinction belongs to Andre Ware's 517 first-half passing yards for Houston against SMU in 1989. Rudolph's passer rating for the first half was an unheard of 257.3.
  • Poor Timing
    Nebraska had never lost to a MAC team in its history (although they had played only five games against the current members of the league). Just days after the school announced a contract extension for head coach Mike Riley, the Cornhuskers lost 21-17 at home to Northern Illinois. Since 2010, NIU has also beaten Northwestern, Purdue, Iowa, and Minnesota. NU QB Tanner Lee, from Jesuit High School New Orleans who transferred from Tulane, threw two pick sixes in Q1. The Huskers came back from the 14-0 deficit to take a 17-14 lead, but NIU immediately answered back and held on.
Saturday Night Sorrow
I posted this on the Tiger Rag website 10:15 Saturday night.

In thinking that LSU would defeat Mississippi State Saturday night, how could I have forgotten that:
Coordinators don't play the game; players do;
Players need time to learn a new coordinator's system;
LSU's first two opponents were both bad teams, as evidenced by Wisconsin whipping BYU 40-6 earlier Saturday;
Playing the most true freshman in the FBS is not conducive to winning conference games on the road;
I questioned LSU's settling for Ed Orgeron as head coach at the end of the 2016 season;
The penalty problem that plagued the Tigers in the first two games was likely to get worse in Starkville, not better;
Bulldog QB Nick Fitzgerald improved tremendously last season after his humiliation in Tiger Stadium and would be loaded for bear against the Tigers;
A thin defensive line can't hold up against a physical, running team like MSU;
Orgeron lost both his games in Starkville as coach of Ole Miss, 35-14 and 17-14;
A solid running game is unlikely behind an injury-riddled offensive line against an SEC foe;
Arden Key needs time to get into football shape.
Finally, how could I have forgotten the many times that my hope that LSU's offense would be much improved entering a new season have been dashed in the last decade.
Final sad note: Unlike Leonard Fournette in 2015, Derrius Guice doesn't have to wait for a trip to Tuscaloosa to have his Heisman hopes dashed this year.

Saints-Vikings Comments

Disappointing start for the Saints, to say the least.

  • The offense kept bogging down in the red zone even before Zach Strief went out with a knee injury, which is expected to sideline him several weeks at least.
  • I couldn't believe Payton kept settling for FGs even as the Saints fell further behind because Sam Bradford was having a spectacular night against N.O.'s secondary.
  • The first two FGs might be forgiven but the third time too? 2:43 was left in Q3 and the Saints trailed 19-6. And the running plays called inside the 5? You've got a Hall of Fame QB! Let him throw the ball!
  • Both QBs played well, but Sam was slightly better.
    Bradford: 27-32, 346y, 3 TD
    Brees: 27-317, 291y, 1 TD
    Neither threw an INT. Bradford stood comfortably in the pocket on 90% of his passes. Of course, Brees might have had at least one more TD if Payton had let him pass inside the 10.
  • Why did CB De'Vante Harris stay in the game so long when Bradshaw was torching him? Why wasn't he giving more help?

It's only one game, but already alarm bells are ringing.

  • From Monday night, we can draw either of two conclusions:
    The Saints are not as good as anticipated.
    The Vikings are much better in 2017.
  • Let's hope it's the latter, although it could be both.

With New England coming to town with 10 days rest to play the Saints with 6 days rest, it's almost certain our heroes will start the season 0-2 with road games to follow both Week 3 and Week 4.

An 0-4 start will put the wheels in motion for the end of the Payton-Brees-Loomis era in New Orleans.

NFL Predictions for 2017

The following teams will win MORE games than they did last year.

  • Buffalo Bills
  • Chicago Bears
  • Detroit Lions
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Los Angeles Rams

These teams will win FEWER games than last year.

  • Indianapolis Colts
  • New England Patriots
  • New York Jets
  • New York Giants
  • Oakland Raiders

SAINTS' PREDICTION

After three straight 7-9 seasons, the Saints finally get back to the .500 mark: 8-8

  • The LBs are much faster this year, which will make the defense better.
  • The offense, which has never finished lower than 6th in the Payton-Brees Era, will be as good or better.
  • Injuries will determine the final mark, as always. If key players stay healthy, the Saints should improve on last year's mark despite a tough schedule.
  • Another factor this season is the possibility that this will be Drew Brees's last with the Saints since his contract has not been extended. And Payton, who was all but sealed and delivered to Indianapolis several years ago, may go also if he can't produce at least a .500 record.
Street & Smith's NFL Preview Summary
Division Predictions
National Conference
NFC South
  1. Atlanta Falcons
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  3. Carolina Panthers
  4. New Orleans Saints
NFC East
  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. New York Giants
  3. Washington Redskins
  4. Philadelphia Eagles
NFC North
  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Minnesota Viking
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Chicago Bears
NFC West
  1. Seattle Seahawks
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. Los Angeles Rams
  4. San Francisco 49ers
American Conference
AFC South
  1. Tennessee Titans
  2. Houston Texans
  3. Indianapolis Colts
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars
AFC East
  1. New England Patriots
  2. Miami Dolphins
  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. New York Jets
AFC North
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Cincinnati Bengals
  3. Baltimore Ravens
  4. Cleveland Browns
AFC West
  1. Oakland Raiders
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Denver Broncos
  4. Los Angeles Chargers

Super Bowl Prediction: Patriots over Packers

Excerpts from Saints page

  • "The N.O. Saints, a model of continuity under GM Mickey Loomis, head coach Sean Payton, and QB Drew Brees together for more than a decade, now have become a model of mediocrity."
  • "The Saints can't seem to find a solution on defense, where perennial injuries and free-agent busts have made it impossible to establish continuity, let alone develop a unit to complement the offense."
  • OFFENSE
    "Brees ... shows no signs of slowing down. ... with TB Mark Ingram, budding superstar receiver Michael Thomas and a durable, underrated offensive line, the Saints again have the tools to be one of the NFL's top attacks in 2017."
    QBs
    "Brees wants to play until he's 45 and who wants to bet against him? He's as durable as they come, an offseason conditioning freak and 17 months younger than Tom Brady. Last year, at 37, Brees delivered one of the best all-around passing seasons of his 16-year career, leading the NFL in completions (471), attempts (673) and yards (5,208). Now 38, he's becoming a salary-cap burden on a team that has not managed the cap well and could be approaching the Peyton Manning stage of his career, where he'd perhaps prefer to take a better shot at a sescond Super Bowl ring by moving elsewhere."
    RBs
    "It took six seasons for Ingram to emerge as the player the Saints expected on draft day in 2011, Ingram rushed for 1,043y last year ... Ingram will probably never live up to his first-round, Heisman Trophy billing, but he's a strong, powerful back who finds extra yards, blocks well and can get open for Brees."
    RECEIVERS
    "The quick emergence of Thomas as a rookie last season was one of the team's bright spots. ... His 1,137y receiving set a franchise rookie record. Because of his development, Brandin Cooks became expendable ... Willie Snead is a favorite target of Brees because of his ability to create quick separation and find the soft spots in zones. ... The Saints signed Ted Ginn the day before trading Cooks. Ginn, 32, is coming off the two best seasons of his career ..."
    OFFENSIVE LINE
    "The Saints overhauled their offensive line before the 2015 season and it has become one of the team's more stable units ... C Max Unger ... arrived in the then-upopular trade of TE Jimmy Graham to Seattle. Terron Armstead, viewed as a project on draft day in 2013, has become an elite LT ... RT Zach Strief, tied with Brees as the team's most tenured player, will be 34 in September but might have had his best year in 2016, allowing just two sacks."
  • DEFENSE
    "The defense made some token improvements under first-year coordinator Dennis Allen in 2016 ... Allen shifted to a 4-3, moving away from predecessor Rob Ryan's complicated 3-4 base scheme, and given the contributions of numerous rookies due to injuries, he was rightfully pleased with the results."
    DEFENSIVE LINE
    "Two-time Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan is a dangerous edge rusher who has not missed a game in his first six seasons ..."
    LBs
    "... the Saints got major contributions here last season from Craig Robertson and Nathan Stupar, free agents expected to be backups and special-teams players ... They could return to their projected roles with the return of Dannell Elleerbe ... A. J. Klein ... was viewed as the best inside LB in the free-agent class.
    "The Saints also added Manti Te'o, whose tenure in San Diego was disappointing, though he had his best season (2015) with the Chargers under LB coach Mike Nolan, who's now in the same role in New Orleans."
    SECONDARY
    "This unit is another ongoing weakness, as N.O. finished dead last in pass defense in 2016 ...
    "CB Marshon Lattimore, the team's top draft pick, should be a long-term solution at a perennial problem position. Lattimore battled hamstring injuries at Ohio State but was regarded as the top CB on the board."
    SPECIAL TEAMS
    "Greg McMahon, who had been with the Saints since 2006, was let go after the unit made some costly mistakes in 2016, including allowing several blocked kicks in close games. K Will Lutz had a shaky start to his rookie season but finished the year strong, earning Payton's trust."
  • BOTTOM LINE
    The Saints continue to wallow in mediocrity despite an elite offense ... this franchise must improve on defense if it hopes to compete in perhaps the NFL's toughest division, where everyone now has a younger QB to rival Brees."
Sports Illustrated NFL Preview Summary
Division Predictions
National Conference
NFC South
  1. Atlanta Falcons (12-4)
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6)
  3. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
  4. New Orleans Saints (6-10)
NFC East
  1. New York Giants (10-6)
  2. Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)
  4. Washington Redskins (7-9)
NFC North
  1. Minnesota Vikings (11-5)
  2. Green Bay Packers (11-5)
  3. Chicago Bears (6-10)
  4. Detroit Lions (5-11)
NFC West
  1. Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
  2. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
  3. Los Angeles Rams (7-9)
  4. San Francisco 49ers (4-12)
American Conference
AFC South
  1. Tennessee Titans (10-6)
  2. Houston Texans (9-7)
  3. Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
AFC East
  1. New England Patriots (14-2)
  2. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
  3. Buffalo Bills (5-11)
  4. New York Jets (3-13)
AFC North
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
  2. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (5-11)
  4. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
AFC West
  1. Oakland Raiders (10-6)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
  3. Los Angeles Chargers (7-9)
  4. Denver Broncos (6-10)

Super Bowl Prediction: Patriots 31 Packers 27

Excerpts from Saints page

  • Position Rankings:
    QB - 6, Skill - 25, OL - 18, Front 7 - 30, DBs - 24
  • "One of the things that makes Drew Brees great is his ability to manipulate pass defenders with body language. He does this not only with pump fakes but also with shoulder rolls and misleading glances to one side of the field."
  • "LT Terron Armstead will miss part of the season as he recovers from offseason surgery for a torn left labrum. But the Saints can survive, because their scheme naturally helps blockers. For one, no NFC coach last year used formations with six offensive linemen more than Sean Payton, who loves to throw from that personnel grouping. Also, its TEs and RBs often help with cipo blocks. This slows those playes as they're getting into their routes, but that's fine because they can serve as check-down options, and Brees's eyes don't reach them until late in the play."
  • "Don't be surprised when Adrian Peterson supplants Mark Ingram in the RB pecking order. The free-agent pickup is a great fit for New Orleans's north-south ground game, which stylistically resembles the one Peterson thrived in as a Viking."
  • "The defense has been bad for a while, even though the front office has been trying. Every year since 2011 the Saints have spent two of their top three draft picks on defense. The wet-noodle-to-wall approach has left them with a ton of depth - if we're defining depth as highly drafted players who could carve out significant roles but also might provide nothing."
  • "It's no surprisee the Saints drafted CB Marshon Lattimore of Ohio State in the first round. The better (D coordinator Dennis) Allen's corners are in solo coverage, the more creative he can be."
2017 NFL Preview: Lindy's Sports
Division Predictions
National Conference
NFC South
  1. Atlanta Falcons
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  3. New Orleans Saints
  4. Carolina Panthers
NFC East
  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. New York Giants
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Washington Redskins
NFC North
  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Detroit Lions
  3. Minnesota Vikings
  4. Chicago Bears
NFC West
  1. Arizona Cardinals
  2. Seattle Seahawks
  3. Los Angeles Rams
  4. San Francisco 49ers
American Conference
AFC South
  1. Houston Texans
  2. Tennessee Titans
  3. Indianapolis Colts
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars
AFC East
  1. New England Patriots
  2. Miami Dolphins
  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. New York Jets
AFC North
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Cincinnati Bengals
  4. Cleveland Browns
AFC West
  1. Oakland Raiders
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Los Angeles Chargers
  4. Denver Broncos
Intriguing Numbers
2004 Last year a team repeated as Super Bowl champs - the Patriots
7 Super Bowls the Patriots have gone to in last 16, winning five
5 QBs chosen with the second overall pick since 1998; 4 of them opened the season as starters.
6
Sweeps in the Miami-New England series since 2001, all by the Patriots
3/10 Of the top 10 leading rushers in NFL history, only three have had 1,000y seasons after turning 32, Adrian Peterson's current age
28 Games missed by Peterson the last three years
2009 Last season in which the team that led the NFL in scoring won the Super Bowl - the Saints
8 Number of starting QBs for the Texans in the last three years
0-7 Marvin Lewis's playoff record as he enters the last year of his contract with Cincinnati
7 Players who rushed for at least 1000y in 2015 - the lowest total since 1991.
1 Teams with one of the seven 1000y-rushers that made the playoffs in 2015
12 1000y rushers in 2016, with six of their teams making the playoffs
1 RBs who had 300 carries in 2016 - Ezekiel Elliott
99.3 Percent of successful extra-point attempts in 2014, the last year before the rule change moving the try to the 15
93.6 Percent of successful extra-point kicks in 2016, the lowest conversion rate since 1979.
3-9 Cowboys' playoff record since their last Super Bowl victory in 1995
1996-97 Last years the Redskins had consecutive winning seasons before 2015-16; yet owner Daniel Snyder fired GM Scot McCloughan this past offseason
2004 Last time the NFC East had a repeat champion, the Eagles
3 Consecutive seasons the Saints have not made the playoffs, the longest drought in Sean Payton's tenure
4,887 Average passing yards per season in Drew Brees's last 11 seasons
6 Lowest the Saints have finished in total offense in the NFL under Sean Payton

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About This Site
This site is devoted primarily but not exclusively to college and pro football. The unique feature of this site is the publication each fall of the author's rankings of all FBS college football teams and similar rankings for the NFL. I live in New Orleans and am a graduate of LSU and FSU. So I present a Southern and particularly an SEC point of view but one that is reasonably objective. I also publish a monthly Football Magazine with stories from the past and a monthly Baseball Magazine with a similar format. During the winter and spring, there's a monthly Basketball Magazine.

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Part I | Part II
| Part III
Part IV | Part V | Part VI

Cardinals Clubhouse
---Profile: Rogers Hornsby - II
The Ultimate Game 2014 World Series - Game 7
One Great Year
- Norm Cash 1962
Odd Baseball Facts
- Identical Phillies One-Hitters
How Would You Rule? -
Grand slam lost
Baseball Quiz
- Teammates with most RBIs
Short Story - The New Bat Cured the Stomach

 

Tiger Den: 1963 Cotton Bowl
Saints Saga: Profile - Jim Finks I
Seminoles Sidelines: Battle of Septuagenarians
Profile: Bill Walsh - VII
Super Bowl V - Colts vs Cowboys, "Blunder Bowl"
Short Story: Freshman Archie
How Well Do You Know the Rules?
Football Quiz

 

Golden Basketball
Magazine
[5/12]
Last one until winter
Basketball Short Story ABA Tryout Stories
Tiger Den Basketball Season in Time: 2005-06 - Final Four
From the Archives The Hoosiers Hollywood Ignored
Basketball Quiz Larry Bird's College


My College Predictions for 2017

2017 College Football Preseason Magazine Summaries

About This Site

Past Articles

Tigers in NFL - 2016

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