Bet the Saints ...and eat your heart out
Well fans, the Colts are ensconced as 5 1/2 point favorites this Sunday, despite Dwight Freeney having what has been termed a grade-three ankle sprain which may keep him from playing. Bettors could take the Saints and the points and make money, because I believe that the balance of power has shifted to the NFC, with the old perennial power houses such as the Patriots, Steelers and Chargers in decline.
In fact, I think salt will be rubbed into the fresh wounds of many a fan of the Purple when they see the Saints team, which the Vikes dominated and lost to impossibly, pull away from the Colts to an easy win. You see all these people stumbling along on the street, muttering to themselves, gesticulating wildly. These are not drug-addled derelicts, merely Viking fans. They will recover by next summer in time for the second episode of the Favre “ Shall I, Shan’t I?” soap opera.
Let us look forward, then, to next season. If Brett Favre does return to the Vikes they should once more be a threat to make the Super Bowl, although he does seem to have grooved that last play pass interception to finish the NFC Championship game. What could keep them from getting that far is their defensive back field, where Antoine Winfield has a nagging foot injury and is getting no younger, as well as the serious knee injury to Cedric Griffin, sustained covering the kickoff that Ryan Longwell should never have needed to launch. The third cornerback, Benny Sapp, whose play picked up as he filled in for Winfield, is a free agent. And then there are the two safeties whose tackling and pass coverage have been spotty.
Meanwhile, it is unknown whether E.J. Henderson will recover from breaking his femur participating in the other, lesser disaster down in Phoenix, nor if Jasper Brinkley can improve his coverage skills to keep even journeymen tight ends from shredding the Minnesota pass defense yet more painfully. It could be the worst sort of long year for the fan.
On the offensive side of the line, the greatest running back since Walter Payton has morphed into a guy you can’t trust with the ball. He appears to need a psychiatrist, or at least heavy acupuncture. The Vikes went from being a run first team to one which needed the pass to set up the run, stopped short of the line of scrimmage more often than not. If these problems had been addressed before the NFC championship, New Orleans would have been defeated by a hefty margin and the present story line would be Manning/Favre.
It will be interesting to watch The Who entertain at this year’s halftime extravaganza. Having recorded no big hits lately, I wonder if they can still afford to smash their guitars?