It’s funny how the NFL year can be divided up into cliches: mock drafts, free agent frenzies, final rosters…and now, records. Playoffs. Championships. Everyone knows just how it’s going to work out. And they’re never right, and next year, they’ll do it again.
Except I was right, once: in 2009. I predicted 13-3 and Super Bowl champions, and that prediction is like a ring on the finger to me. Since it’s not pawnable, I suppose I’ll always wear it, until it gets so tiresome my wife sleeps on the couch. (Okay, I was wrong about the NFCCG opponent: I picked—who else?—the Packers.)
Everyone thinks they know. Kevin Held thinks the Buccaneers are going to win the division at 10-6. (“Enlarge the man committed yesterday, that rail’d against our season: we consider it was excess of wine that set him on.”) Mike Triplett has the actual scores of every game, in advance and everything, and a final tally of 11-5 and defeat at the hands of—who else?—the Packers at Lambeau in the NFCCG. Peter King, who was wrong in 2009 (and yes, Peter: you’ll wear that like an iron chain ’round your ankle until the end of time), has the Saints losing the division to Atlanta, beating the Falcons in the playoffs, then losing to—who else?—the Packers at Lambeau. (This from Sports Illustrated’s print preview of the season, which Hans at Canal Street Chronicles read so I didn’t have to.)
Pat Y, ever the Saints homer, is one of only three of ESPN’s “experts” to choose the Saints as division winners—and of the eleven who see either the Falcons (10) or Panthers (1) winning out, none see the Saints getting so much as a wild-card. And Pat Y sees the Saints losing in the playoffs (though he doesn’t say to whom, he has—who else?—the Packers as eventual NFC champions).
Here’s the truth: it’s all bullshit, as I’m sure you realize. Nobody knows how the season will play out—nobody knows who will get hurt, who will surprise with his greatness or his suckiness, which team will collapse, which will suddenly rise up (to coin a phrase), which will prove itself incapable of sustaining all the bold talk of the preseason. Every year, the major media reminds us that every year five or six of last year’s playoff teams fail to make the postseason; and every year, they pick the same teams as last year to make the playoffs.
Except, of course, for the Saints.
So…what are my own predictions? I don’t have but the one: we’re winning the damn Super Bowl. However we get there—by gutting out a 10-6, wild-card route, or blowing the doors off everyone on the way to 19-0—it’s going to end with Roger Goodell in Ochsner being treated for severe cochlear trauma after Drew hoists the trophy and says, “This one’s for Sean!”
And that moment will be almost as sweet as the next season’s, when Sean Payton accepts the trophy in person.
On the Jukebox