Math, logic say Saints will win
Relax, Who Dat fans.
The Saints got this.
Can’t make any guarantees for next week in the NFC championship game.
Little dicier proposition on that one.
But Drew Brees and the healthy Saints will beat Tampa Bay today, no matter what Tom Brady’s stellar playoff track record is, to at least get there, one win from the Brees-Sean Payton regime’s second Super Bowl appearance.
Well, maybe a little.
But the reason the Saints will win is pretty simple.
It’s not because the game is in the Superdome.
Homefield advantage is one of the biggest casualties of pandemic football. They might as well be playing in your basement.
Packed with 3,000 socially distanced fans the Superdome doesn’t really rattle anything, let alone a 43-year-old quarterback with six Super Bowl trophies stacked around his rocking chair.
Payton, who earlier floated the notion of quarantining 50,000 fans in New Orleans hotels for a fortnight just get them medically cleared for Who Dat-decibel duty, went off the rails this week.
He suggested arming those few hardy fans with vuvuzelas, the plastic abominations which surely you remember from a few years ago from the World Cup in South Africa, where they made soccer matches even more annoying than usual.
Worse than the Vandy Whistler in college baseball.
Not even Payton strikes gold with every idea, but in this case we’d suggest sticking to X’s and O’s and limiting his extracurriculars to getting green-slimed by Nickelodeon.
Fortunately the Saints won’t need a home dome this time.
When the Saints win, it also won’t be because Brees really needs a second trophy for his legacy before heading off to redefine the broadcast booth.
It would be nice, but football doesn’t really get sentimental in instances like these.
The Saints, although armed with a sleek, state-of-the-art offense, will win the old-fashioned way: the best defense that Payton has had will make whatever wizardry his offensive hijinks pull off mere lagniappe.
Brady or no Brady.
Mainly, they will win because they are the better team.
That’s always a good start, even with busy-body NFL officials on the scene.
Granted, it hasn’t paid off the last three postseasons — for various, sometimes sundry and one criminally inept no-call — when the Saints were at least one of the two best teams in the NFL and spent the Super Bowl at home.
Can’t imagine that foolishness four years in row. So the Saints probably need to make sure that Hail Marys and phantom flags aren’t still on the table by game’s end.
That shouldn’t be a problem.
The Saints weren’t even particularly sharp in last week’s Nickelodeon game against the Bears. They left a lot of points out there and gave up opposing points on the game’s final play for a fourth consecutive playoff game. But no harm done — it only cut the margin to a 21-9 cakewalk.
Still, the Saints were just enough off kilter for Payton to cook up something special for today — and have his team’s undivided attention in the process.
History says the Saints usually bounce back from sloppy performances with something a little more aesthetically pleasing.
Look for that today.
And we already know the Saints are better than the Bucs, with whom of course they are very familiar as NFC South rivals.
They’ve won five in a row against Tampa Bay and …
What that’s you say?
Sure. That’s true. Brady wasn’t around for the first three. And we’re talking about this season and what is right now one of the hot teams in the league in the Bucs.
But the two games this regular season weren’t particularly close — one was a rout — and when …
What? You’re interrupting again. But, yes, you in the back there, the one doing all the handwringing. Say again? You got what concern?
Oh, that. Get outta here. Don’t even go there. Yeah, today means the Saints have to beat the Bucs for a third time in one season or else the first two won’t really mean squat.
Oh, noooooo. Not that!
As I was saying, the last time the two played, the Bucs might have been the hottest team in the league, had recently blitzed Green Bay 38-10, and were all abuzz about hosting the Saints for Tampa Bay ambush.
The Saints won 38-3 (and it was 31-0 at the half).
Don’t look for that kind of final score today, but the alleged horror of having to beat a team three times, the mental road block, is nothing but an old wives’ tale.
“Whatever,” Payton said this week when asked about it. ” I think statistically speaking, it’s in the 60-something percentile (that teams complete the sweep). I think that is a little bit of a myth if you really do the math.”
If you actually do the math, it’s more in the 67-percent range. It’s happened 21 times in the past and the team that was better in the first two game has gone 14-7.
It’s probably been for the same reason the Saints will beat the Bucs today.
They were the better team in the first two games and they are the better team now.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU
athletics. Email him at