No NFL team has ever hosted the Super Bowl and played in the big game. The City of New Orleans was hoping to break that trend this season.
That hope might be gone just three weeks into the the season if the Saints can't figure out a way to beat the Kansas City Chiefs. Making the playoffs after starting the season 0-2 is hard but trying to making the playoffs after an 0-3 start is nearly impossible.
New Orleans opened the season with a 40-32 loss to the Washington Redskins and followed that game up with a 35-27 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Next up for the the Saints is the hapless Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City opened with a 40-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons and followed that performance up with a 37-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs were batted around as the 2012 surprise team but they haven't lived up to that prediction by far.
New Orleans gets a bad football team after two loss in front of a wild, rowdy, and mad fan base. There is only one reason I can't see the Saints winning this game.
The Saints play at the line of scrimmage on offense and defense has been terrible. New Orleans is getting whipped on their offensive and defensive line on a regular basis.
Last week the offensive line was so bad, Saints quarterback Drew Brees ended up limping off the field after a sack. New Orleans has to improve up front or the Saint will be playing Chase Daniel behind center before the season is up.
Everyone has said the Saints defensive secondary is terrible but no one has pointed out that the New Orleans defensive line is getting very little pressure on opposing quarterbacks, putting a strain of the secondary to have to cover for longer than normal.
This is the tipping for the 2012 New Orleans Saints. A win and playoff hopes are alive. A loss and the question starts to become how high in the draft will the Saints be selecting come next April.
What to Watch for
Running the ball
The Saints are 20th in rushing but when your behind like New Orleans has been all season, you have to throw it more than you want. Last week, the Saints weren't bad running the ball and New Orleans has a good stable of running backs..
There are three reasons the Saints need to run the ball more.
One, Brees is banged up along with wide recievers Marques Colston and Devery Henderson. Running the ball more will take pressure off of the passing game until players heal up.
Two, the Chiefs are ranked 28th against the run. It is early but yards can be found on the ground against Kansas City.
Three, running the ball shortens the game. New Orleans has been bad on defense and running the ball more would keep that defense on the sideline. The Saints can control the clock by grounding out this game with their rushing attack.
Last week, the Saints offensive line wasn't terrible in the running game but still struggled to protect Brees. It seems that Brees scrambles more for his life this season than at any point since he got to New Orleans.
I also have a feeling that Brees interceptions are happening because he is rushing his passes before he gets pressured, trying to hurry when he gets pressured, or getting hit as he throws. Right now, I have to believe that Brees is not very comfortable when he drops back to pass.
New Orleans' offensive line needs to fire off the ball, be more physical, and show some pride and heart this Sunday with an outstanding effort.
The Saints just aren't a good enough team right now to survive turnovers. New Orleans has to play a clean game and keep their mistakes down to a minimum.
Get a pass rush
New Orleans must get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and when they get chances to get hits or sacks, they must not miss. I have seen the Saints defensive line do that way too much over the first two games.
Sacks are great but there are other things the Saints can do with a pass rush. By getting to the quarterback, the defensive line can force bad passes, fumbles, interceptions and more.
The job the defensive line is doing right now is not going to get it done. When you combine their lack of a pass rush with the fact they are the 32nd ranked defense against the run and it is easy to see why the Saints are 0-2.
The Saints have one turnover. ONE TURNOVER. You could say two turnovers if you count the blocked punt against the Redskins.
That has to change if New Orleans is going to start winning games. The Saints have five turnovers on the season giving themselves a -4 turnover ratio. Most teams that make the playoffs have a positive turnover ratio.
Feed off the fans
I always believe that the Saints play their best defense when they are feeding off the fans. New Orleans has some of the best fans in the NFL and when the Superdome gets rocking, the Saints defense plays better.
When the fans are into the game, the Saints typically start having fun on defense. New Orleans is 0-2 and the season is on the line, there is no better time to embrace the fans and use that emotion to crank up the defense another couple of notches.
Saints 34 Chiefs 21