From the SEC to the NFL | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

From the SEC to the NFL

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Bryan Flynn

Mississippi State University is the top team in the country, and there really is no argument as to why the Bulldogs should be No. 1. MSU has played one of the toughest schedules and won each contest.

The Bulldogs have faced teams with a combined record of 26-15 so far this season. For the rest of the top five, Ole Miss' opponents have a combined record of 22-16, Florida State University's opponents have a record of 18-18, Baylor University's opponents have a record of 14-21, and the University of Notre Dame's opponents have a record of 17-21.

Baylor has played the worst schedule, so the playoff committee should really take the Bears' schedule to task. Florida State has seemed uninspired and hasn't played many good teams. Notre Dame is nearly in the same boat as Baylor.

Each team that is currently in the top five has the potential to steal the No. 1 from the Bulldogs, but Ole Miss has the best case. Starting this week, things get a little easier for the Bulldogs, and the Rebels' schedule sees a little relief as well. All in all, this is shaping up to be a season to remember for both Mississippi schools.

In the NFL, the New Orleans Saints had their bye week and sit at 2-3 this season. New Orleans has yet to win two games in a row. The Saints' problems are fixable, but the biggest problem for them has been pass coverage. That is a harder fix if you consider the injury to Jairus Byrd, who is now gone for the season. It could be that the Saints are having trouble adjusting to tougher calls on the pass defense from the officials. We will see if New Orleans spent the bye week working on that weak spot.

Another defensive problem is lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. New Orleans has just six sacks so far, which ties it for No. 27 in the league. The Saints also have just one interception, which ties them for last in the league with the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Their inability to force turnovers compounds with the team's own turnover troubles. The Saints are minus seven in turnovers with six interceptions and three fumbles and have only one fumble recovery and one interception that went their way. If the team can't force turnovers, they must be better at protecting the ball.

That leads me to my next point—the Saints are putting too much pressure on Drew Brees. New Orleans needs to run the ball more as shown in their overtime win against Tampa Bay. Running the ball opens the play action up for big plays down field. More rushing yards could relieve some of New Orleans' offensive woes.

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