How sad it is that "Gameday!" just doesn't bring the same level of excitement anymore? 0-4 will do that to you. But at least we have the Drew Brees record to root for... that should take about half a quarter. I'm picturing that emotional high followed by, potentially, a long period of reflection in front of the TV while the game continues along the lines of "how on earth are we sitting here battling to get to 1-4??". That said, I do think the Saints win this game. Don't ask me how, and I'm not suggesting this will begin any sort of run because the defense is still beyond saving... but they will win this game. Calling the magic of Sunday Night Football in the Dome with records on the line and Brees/Sproles playing against the team that had no more use for them. Here's what I'm looking for in this game:
1. Who Catches the Record Touchdown?
It looks like Lance Moore is a gametime decision. Too bad if he misses it because this will be a must ball to catch. Obviously Jimmy Graham is the odds on favorite, but Marques Colston and Darren Sproles are the other threats. You never know, though, a random receiver like Devery/Joe Morgan could connect on a deep route early, or David Thomas/Jed Collins could snake a goal line misdirection reception. I'm predicting Jimmy Graham of course, but I'm very interested to see who will be on the receiving end of this touchdown. It could give a nobody (like Joe Morgan) a piece of NFL history which would be cool.
2. Does the Saints' Defense Play Nastier?
At this point I'm less interested in seeing this unit stop someone, which they obviously can't do, and I'm more interested in seeing them play nasty. If you take that to mean "dirty", then fine. Defense is made to be played with aggression and the lines are so fine and blurry. I don't care if they're pulling jerseys, grabbing facemasks, roughing the passer... whatever it takes to send the message they may give up a touchdown, but they are going to put you through pain to get there. Let's start with that before we get too crazy and start wishing the other team would punt every once and a while.
3. Is Garrett Hartley a Headcase?
I'm really interested in seeing how Hartley bounces back from that bad miss last week. I'm curious if he spirals out of control mentally, or if he rebounds nicely and takes care of business. He's always made me a little nervous with how he carries himself because he always seems to have a lot of stress on his face so he strikes me as being a fragile kicker mentally. Does he shake off the bad miss that every kicker has in their career and go back to being as reliable as we think he can be?
4. Will the Fans Turn on the Players?
Anytime you're 0-4 the risk is high for the boo birds to come out. If the Saints get down a couple scores and start playing poorly, it's more than conceivable the fans will get pissed off. Let's face it, it's a Sunday night game, and the fans will be more drunk than usual and more embarrassed than usual if the Saints come out with eggs on their faces in front of a national audience. The Saints are going to be on a short leash in this one I think. That's a recipe for disaster because once the fans start quitting on the players it's usually not too far behind that the players start mailing it in. Hopefully it won't come to that. Based on what's at stake with Brees there will be a nice boost of purpose for the fan base if he can get that record squared away early... but if the Saints play miserable football and start staring 0-5 in the face it could be an ugly scene.
5. Do the Saints Get their First Win?
That may seem like the stupidest and most simplistic item on the gameday agenda I have ever written, but it's come down to basics. This team just needs to win a game. Forget bounties, forget playoffs, forget divisional rankings, forget stats, forget suspensions, forget the draft and when Sean Payton comes back in 2013. The only thing I am interested in right now is moving that win column from 0 to 1. I don't really care how they look, and I don't care how they do it. I don't care if they win 75-0 on the heels of 7 Brees TD passes or if they win 4-3 off two bogus safeties that the refs blatantly created out of thin air because they felt sorry for the team. Actually 4-3 would suck because that would mean Brees didn't get the record. But beyond that, we're not into style points. The motto right now for this team should be "win a football game". It will do the entire fanbase a world of good when he can just get that winless monkey off our back.