Believe it or not, folks, the NFL season is much closer than you can possibly imagine. So close, in fact, that, if we're going to fit in every NFL team preview by the start of the season, we have to go this early. So there you have it.
Last year, we asked some of our favorite writers to opine why Their Favorite Team Was Better Than Yours. Ultimately, we found this constrictive, and it also might have killed James Frey. So this time, we've just asked them to just run free, talk about their team, their experience as a fan, their hopes, their dreams, their desires for oral sex. All our teams are now assigned; if you sent us an email and we didn't get back to you, we're sorry, and we accept your scorn. But today: New Orleans Saints.
Your author is Alex Balk, editor of Gawker.com. His words are after the jump.
Last year in this space, I suggested that, seeing as the city of New Orleans was still a giant, sodden bowl of disaster that showed no signs of imminent repair, it might be a little frivolous to focus on the game of football, no matter how exciting it might be. Well, the city's still a mess two years after Katrina, but the Saints went all the way to the NFC Championship game last season, so fuck New Orleans: We're going to the Super Bowl, baby!
Overconfident? You might think so, but hear me out. This is more or less exactly the same team that, barring their inability to keep the Bears from scoring monstrous amount of points on that snowy Chicago eve, could have been last year's victim of the superior AFC in the big game. The season came as a surprise to everyone, even the players. This year the expectations are higher, but not only are these guys ready to meet them, they're more than able to exceed them. Assuming they have the same luck staying injury free as they did last year (granted, a big if), it's hard to see them not going all the way. Coach Sean Payton did a hell of a job making all the parts mesh and knowing when to stay out of the way. Brees showed the kind of confidence a championship-caliber quarterback needs to get the job done. And does anyone doubt Reggie Bush will only get better?
And consider this: As far as they went, this is a team that only won 10 games last year. I always used to piss and moan about the Steelers making the playoffs every year because they played in football's weakest division, so they were spotted at least six wins to begin with. Now that the NFC South has claimed that dubious distinction ... whatever, works for me! In fact — and here comes the most outlandish, jinx-inducing speculation I'll make, hoping that by actually saying it out loud there'll be some kind of double-reverse jinx property that comes into effect somehow — if the Saints manage to beat the Colts in the opener, it's not impossible to see them running the table on the next 14 games (the schedule is just that soft), which would see them facing the Bears in the final game of the season, where Lovie Smith will doubtless want to rest whoever has finally replaced Rex Grossman at QB. Yes, that's right: The Saints could go 16-0 this year.
Now that probably won't happen, but it is not at all irrational to expect 12 or 13 wins out of this team, which should be good enough for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. So when the inevitable rematch of last year's NFC Championship game occurs, it's gonna be in the Superdome. And the Saints are GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL, BITCHES!
Once there, of course, they'll be blown out by whoever wins the AFC, but whatever, you take what you can get. Maybe after the game is over we can start worrying about New Orleans the city again. Until then, it's gonna be a hell of a season.