The Three Potential Opponents: Volume Two

| January 4th, 2011

Fantasy Playoffs start this week with a chance to win a guest column this offseason.  For Rules & Regulations, check here.  You’ll be able to select your players starting Friday morning

If the weekend goes as I think it’ll go, the Green Bay Packers will beat the Eagles in Philadelphia.  That would bring our old buddies to town.
#5 Seed
  1. January 21, 2007.  In an NFC Championship game the entire world expected the Saints to win (most people used the word “easily”), the Saints were thoroughly dominated at Soldier Field.  They relied on a fluke Reggie Bush wheel route to make the game seem more competitive than it was.
  2. December 30, 2007.  A year later with the Saints still believing they had a chance for the postseason at Soldier Field, Devin Hester returned a third-quarter punt to put the Saints season into a deep freeze.
  3. December 11, 2008.  On a Thursday night with myself in attendance, Danieal Manning returned the opening kick for a touchdown and the Bears held off the Saints in overtime for their third consecutive win against the Saints at Soldier Field.  In all three of these games, the Saints lacked their in-dome (or warm weather) explosiveness and struggled to contain our return games.  The Saints still have some of the weakest special teams in the conference.  
  4. I think the trick to beating the Bears, at Soldier Field, in January, is running the ball efficiently.  You don’t need to run it for 200 yards.  You just need to run the ball from first-to-fourth quarter and be able to keep our linebackers from sliding back confidently into their zone coverages or committing to full-out blitzes.  Right now the Saints are one of the five worst running teams in the league.  
  5. Drew Brees.  I don’t think enough people know the kind of season Drew Brees is in the midst of, having seen his passer rating drop ten points as his interception totals has risen to 22 on the year.  Brees has been making some odd mistakes, sometimes channeling the late Brett Favre, and has not displayed the reliability or consistency that ushered the Saints to their first championship a year ago.
Why Not?
  1. Drew Brees.  He is 4-2 in his playoff career.  But his numbers in the postseason are downright astounding.  150-225 (66.67% completion), 1,648 yards, 13 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.  I’m not big on projections but if you project Brees’ playoff stats over a season he’d have 4,394 yards, 34 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
  2. Marques Colston, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore are physical receivers who can beat the Bears secondary the way receivers need to: settle into the space under the safety and catch the football.  The three receivers combined for 2,424 yards.  Impressive.  
  3. Alex Brown and Sedrick Ellis.  I have not respected many modern Chicago Bears as much as I respect AB and I can see him making a big play after plowing Frank Omiyale three inches into the turf.  Ellis is one of the best young nose tackles in the game and if they slide him into the gap between Kreutz and Chris Williams, Jay better throw the ball quickly.
  4. They play the Seattle Seahawks this weekend.  While I foresee the Eagles and Packers unloading on each other for four quarters, there is reason to believe the Saints will be able to mail-in their second half in Seattle and not take the kind of physical beaten you want your Divisional opponent to suffer in the Wild Card round.
  5. They’re the Super Bowl champs.

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