We’ve seen many family ties in sports over the years, but for the first time ever the Super Bowl features two brothers as head coaches. Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens square off against the San Francisco 49ers brothers John and Jim Harbaugh will make sports history.
The Harbaugh family is center stage as NFL fans await the “Harbaugh Bowl” Sunday in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. And, who has the most unique perspective on this game--the parents of the coaches. Earlier this week Jack and Jackie Harbaugh spoke to the media about their sons coaching in the big game. The Harbaugh family has deep ties to football.
Jack credited his wife for engaging their sons early in the game, “Again, I have to point to Jackie. In coaching, a lot of times I left before the sun came up and came home after the sun went down. Jackie has a great philosophy and that is that she wanted her children to know what their father did. She wanted them to understand who he was and what he did. I can remember when they could just barely walk, John and Jim, that she’d bring them out to the practice field. We’d be practicing and they’d be around jumping on the dummies and then they learned they could throw the ball around. Then they learned they could get into the locker room and meet the players and those kinds of things. We would invite our players at Iowa and Michigan when they were growing up to come to the house on Thursday. That was the day we had off. Jackie would cook a great meal for them and then pretty soon they were wrestling on the floor. Jackie always involved our children in the job that we were involved with.”
Jack Harbaugh played football and coached football for many years including serving as an assistant under one of the most successful coaches in the game--Michigan’s Bo Schembechler. That stint led to coaching jobs at Stanford, Western Michigan, Pittsburgh, Western Kentucky, San Diego and Stanford. Jack Harbaugh’s history is truly amazing and his deep connections to sports go beyond football. He established a close relationship with world champion boxer Muhammad Ali.
And, let’s not forget Jack’s better half, Jackie! While all that football was going on she was the glue holding the family together at home. The success of her children makes the case that she’s as successful a mother as her husband is a coach. And, she passed the baton to her daughter Joanie, who’s the wife Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean.
Mother Jackie Harbaugh says her sons competing in the Super Bowl is without question a very big moment for the Harbaugh family. “I would honestly have to say that the birth of our own children and then the birth of our grandchildren are the most important to me and this is like frosting on the cake for our whole family, our extended family which includes a lot of relatives. I might take this time, if I may, to thank all those friends and families and all those ex-football players that have called us to congratulate John and Jim. They’re so excited for this, because they feel they’re part of this, too. It’s fun hearing from them and sharing this moment with them.”
Jack and Jackie Harbaugh talked about the reality that one son will win and the other will lose a Super Bowl. While they look forward to celebrating winning a world championship, they will feel deeply for the son who loses.
So, as history is made again on Super Sunday; history will be made in the Harbaugh family. I believe all of us who have children…all of us who have siblings…can just imagine what it’s like to walk a mile in the shoes of the Jim and John Haubaugh and their parents Jack and Jackie. What a super dilemma to have!
1.30.13 - In Super Bowl XV the AFC champion Oakland Raiders jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead en-route to a 27-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Raiders QB Jim Plunkett was the game’s MVP as he became just the 2nd player to win the Heisman trophy and the Super Bowl MVP!
Eight teams have won nine Super Bowls in the Big Easy. Winners include the Kansas Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys won two titles in New Orleans. Dallas beat Miami in Tulane Stadium 24-3 in SB XI and Dallas won the first ever Super Bowl played in the Superdome with a 27-10 win over Denver in SB XII
The last time the 49ers played in the SB in New Orleans they dominated the Denver Broncos. QB Joe Montana was super as he completed 22-of-29 pass attempts for 297-yards and a SB record 5 TD’s in a 55-10 win over Denver.
San Francisco is a perfect 5-0 in Super Bowl play. A 49ers win over the Baltimore Ravens would help the 49ers tie the Pittsburgh Steelers with six Super Bowl wins.
In the first ever Super Bowl a thirty-second commercial ad cost $42,000 dollars. A 30-second spot in SB 47 will cost $4 million dollars.
Super Bowl XLVII entertainment includes Alicia Keys singing the National Anthem, while the lovely Beyonce will be the featured act during the Super Bowl halftime show.
Here's the thing I think a lot of us were worried about: OK, he's suspended for one season, but for the teams that are not in the Super Bowl, or in the playoffs, their season has already started. You start evaluating once your season completely ends, evaluating talent, and this week is a BIG, big week. This is Senior Bowl week, and not being there is a huge deal.
You're talking about the Senior Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game, getting ready for the scouting combine...so I think this is a big deal, I think the excitement of the team going in the right direction...And I just don't think it would have been right for Roger Goodell and the Super Bowl to be here in New Orleans, and Sean Payton not be reinstated. From an obvious standpoint, it don't look right, with the ill feelings on each side. At least that's out of the way now, and now Coach Payton can get back to work.
Will the fans be a little warmer toward Roger Goodell coming to the city? I think so. It's going to be kind of like, "I forgive, but I won't forget." I think now the anticipation of what moves will be made, and how this off-season goes...We've been saying for quiet a while, it's going to be an interesting off-season. So now with Coach Payton back in place, there's a sense of calmness now in the Who Dat Nation, and people are obviously excited.
Now, the longest and biggest countdown to the most hyped and anticipated game in sports is underway. It seems like each February there is some type of historic news being hyped about the big game, and this year there is more to talk about. For the first time ever the Super Bowl will feature two brothers as head coaches of the teams in the big game. The San Francisco 49ers can match the Pittsburgh Steelers with most titles won at six if the 49ers defeat the Ravens.
So as I stroll the Morial Convention Center on Radio Row and attend Media Day and hit on all the other hot spots, I’ll give you a inside perspective of the Super Bowl. Here are a few notes to get us started. Time to stock up the fridge and get your Super Bowl Party list together!
It’s the perfect 10 in two weeks when the Baltimore Ravens take on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. This match-up marks the 10th time the Super Bowl has been played in New Orleans with the first three games in the Big Easy being played in old Tulane Stadium, and the next seven in the Superdome.
The first-ever Super Bowl played in New Orleans took place on January 11 1970 as the KC Chiefs battled the Minnesota Vikings in SB 4. The Chiefs won that game 23-7 in front of 80,562 fans in Old Tulane Stadium which was a record for people in attendance at the Super Bowl.
When it comes to the TV broadcast, the networks battle to land the big game as hard as the teams do, and this year’s game also sets a record for CBS. The Columbia Broadcasting System will televise the game for a record 18th time. NBC is not far behind with 17 SB broadcasts. ABC is a distant 3rd with 7 SB while Fox is in the rear with 6 SB broadcasts!
The Super Bowl Title itself has also produced the title "Super Bowl Sunday" and folks love to get involved! Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day, with folks tanking up on plenty of goodies usually at many SB parties. And the SB is usually the most-watched program of the year on national TV.
Some of the greatest players ever have played in a SB in New Orleans. Just the QB position alone has seen some of the best players of all time…QB’s like Terry Bradshaw, Len Dawson, Fran Targeton, Joe Montana, John Elway, Jim Plunket and of course Tom Brady. Just another reason why the history of the SB in the Big Easy is second to none!
OK folks, the long road to the biggest game in sports is a lot shorter now as there are just two games left to decide who will play in Super Bowl XLVII Sunday February 3 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
This weekend we have two great match-ups in both conferences. First up Sunday here on WWL Radio will be an old NFC West fivalry renewed when the 49ers of Rice-a-Roni Land visit the ATL to face the Dirty Birds. Atlanta is hosting the NFC Title Game for the first time in franchise history, while the 49ers are now just two wins away from tying the Pittsburgh Steelers for most SB wins with six.
Now the game should be a very good, but leading up to it the notes and story lines are very fun to take a peak at. My main man Brian Duval is the best in the business when it comes to stats and crunching numbers. Brian is one with the pencil as he has mastered the art of throwing out numbers in game and when he has time the dude is as good as it gets. So let me stop bumping my gums for a moment and let you check out the interesting numbers that Brian has crunched for the NFC Title Game.
The Atlanta Falcons are the #1 seed in the NFC, and #1 seeds are 6-0 in last 7 postseason. The last to lose was PIT to NE in 2004 AFC Championship game
- Atlanta won last 4 meetings vs. SF (including last 2 with Ryan at QB)
- The Falcons last loss to SF was in 2001, lost to them twice that season, both in OT
- 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is the 4th coach to reach conference championship game in each of first two seasons, following George Seifert, Barry Switzer, and Rex Ryan. Only Ryan didn't reach the Super Bowl at least 1 time.
-Falcons QB Ryan has completed 70% of passes in final 2 minutes of either half this season, and Ryan was at 50% in previous 4 years
- San Francisco QB Colin Kapernick in 8 starts as QB on throws of 20+yds downfield, 17/32 554yds and 8 pass plays of 30+yds. Alex Smith in 9 starts at QB this season was 8/17 in throws of 20+yds downfield 273 yds and 3 pass plays of 30+yds.
- Kapernick has a total of 15 plays of 30 or more yards and Alex Smith had 6.
Since Kapernick became starting QB, 49ers WR Michael Crabtree is 5th in NFL in catches (50,) 4th in recieving (714,) and T-2nd with 7 TD's
- Kapernick is sacked on average once every 17.4 drop backs, compared to Alex Smith's 10.6
AFC Title Game - Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
There is some serious history on the line when the Ravens and Pats meet Sunday night in New England. Tom Brady won a record 17th post season game last week as New England beat the Houston Texans.
A win would put the Patriots in New Orleans for a fourth time playing in the Super Bowl. The Pats lost to the Chicago Bears in their first Super Bowl game as Chicago handled New England 46-10.
Then a decade later, the Pats were victimized by Brett and the Packers 35-21. But the third time was the charm for New England as the second biggest underdog in Super Bowl History. New England was facing the greatest show on turf as the St. Louis Rams were predicted to blow out New England. What ensued was one of the greatest post season games in sports history as New England secured an upset 20-17 win with a last-second field goal.
On the flip side Sunday will be either the last game, or the second to the last game, for future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis. Lewis and the Ravens are red-hot and they are looking to erase last season's heartbreaking loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship.
My favorite two stats that B-Love has crunched for me are these: #1 Tom Brady has played 101 home games with the Patriots. Brady is an incredible 86-15 at home as the Pats QB!
And my second favorite stat is about the #4 seeds. Baltimore is the #4 in the AFC, and #4 seeds have compiled a 6-1 overall record in the AFC Championship.
So as we get ready to close out what should be a very exciting weekend of NFL Football let's take a look at some interesting numbers that co-inside with the AFC Title Game!
- This is the first time the same two teams the meet for the conference Championship since Dallas and San Francisco faced each other in 3 straight NFC Title Games from 1992-1994. This is also the first time its happened in AFC since Cleveland played Denver in 1986 and 1987.
- NE QB Tom Brady is 86-15 at home, including playoffs. (85.1% is #1 in NFL for QB's with at least 20 starts in Super Bowl era)
- Baltimore QB Joe Flacco has 5 playoff road wins, which ties him with Eli Manning for most in NFL history
- The Baltimore Ravens have 8 playoff road wins in its history (since being in Baltimore,) and only Green Bay (10) and Dallas (9) have more
- The Ravens defense allows opponents only 49% completions when sending 5 or more rushers on field with Ray Lewis on field. Without Lewis, BAL opponents complete at 65%
As Bobby and I were doing our show, I glanced over at the second computer monitor in front of where the host sits in the studio. (One monitor is used for call-screening, and the other is used to surf the web, write on the fly and print things while the other one is devoted to text messages that we can read.)
About 20 minutes into the show, I began to get texts asking me if I was going to address or talk about the Manti Te’o story that had just broken. Deadspin is a website that usually breaks news that is on the borderline gossipy side, in my opinion.
Well this one has been bizarre from the start, and is gaining even more steam as we speak. Now, if I were to sit here and try and explain this to you it would be like you watching one of those three hour movies that takes 12 hours to watch. You get where I’m coming from? So I’ll try and make things real short and sweet.
Manti Te’o has quickly become one of the most famous players in the long proud tradition at Notre Dame. And now he is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. What has come into question is whether or not the runner-up for the 2012 Heisman Trophy knew about, or lied about, his supposedly dead girlfriend.
Some report that Te’o did had a relationship with a girl (Lennay Kekua,) and that the relationship was one of those Face Book/online deals where it’s all done by computer. Some reports say that Te’o never met the young lady in person, while some say he did...and yet others say that someone with ties to Te’o and his family had something to do with this what is now being called hoax.
Anyway, the story about Manti Te’o was a heartfelt one, seemingly until now. He was a star player on the nation’s #1 team that had led his Fighting Irish to the National Title Game for the first time since 1988.
He has lost family members and has overcome a lot. The story about his girlfriend is that he drew strength and motivation in her supposed death. Now, all of this is said to be fake. Folks are questioning whether or not Te’o was a victim of online fraud, or if he actually knew of this and he had something to do with it.
The story went that the young lady that Te’o was supposedly in a relationship with, Lennay Kekua, died of leukemia and he wanted to play for her in dealing with her death. But according to several media outlets, there is no record of a death certificate.
Te’o told Notre Dame Officials the day after Christmas 2012 that his girlfriend did not exist and he was a victim of an internet hoax. And on Wednesday January 16, Notre Dame made it official in backing up their prized star, as Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick and Notre Dame Officials backed up Te’o and his story of being a victim.
Confused yet? Me to! So now all the questions are being asked. And the questions are getting more and more in -depth. For example, how could the young man not know that this was fake? Did he talk to his girlfriends' parents after he found out she had died in an accident? Who told Te’o that the young lady passed away?
Why has no one said anything about this now? It’s obvious that Notre Dame wanted to keep this close to the vest until after the Irish played in the National Title Game, since they learned about the alleged fraud December 26, 2012.
I’m telling you folks, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a damn duck! Quack-quack-quack! Something is not being told here. And now more details are surfacing about how Notre Dame hired a private investigator to get to the bottom of the story and what the findings were.
The Notre Dame side reports that this was a full-blown hoax and that Manti Te’o was a victim. On the flip side, Deadspin is reporting that a person with ties to Te’o and his family purported a Twitter Account and that Te’o himself is a part of what Deadpsin calls a publicity stunt.
OK, the truth is this, people: If Te’o is a victim, then the young man has already suffered plenty, and he has already seen his stock in the upcoming NFL Draft drop big time. Not only by this story, but his play in the National Title Game as well is hurting his professional future. I mean, if you were a GM or a coach, would you want this story and all the media attention around it in your locker room? Hell no, I say.
And if Te’o had any knowledge of this and he was involved then he should be punished before he enters the NFL, much the same as Ohio State QB Terrell Pryor was for his involvement in the scandal at OSU a few years back.
I caution all of you to hold judgment and not go with the knee-jerk reaction. If Sports Illustrated, the New York Times. L.A. Times, and Chicago Tribune can be fooled, couldn't it be possible for one of us to be taken advantage of also? All of those outlets did stories on Te'o's Girlfriend.
The Chicago Tribune published 15 articles in the past four months alone talking about Te'o's girlfriend and how he was dealing with her death. We are talking about some of the most lucrative and prestigious media outlets in the world that have bottomless budgets that can uncover scandals as big as Watergate and the Penn State Scandal. Just think about, it is all I'm suggesting to you, and then you can come up with your own conclusion.
This story will only get bigger, and if there is a cover-up by the most credible and most well-known university in the history of universities, we are possibly seeing the initial stages of what could become a story/scandal the size of the one that took place at Penn State.
When the odds-makers write or speak, the betting world always listens…and this week will be one of the most active weeks in betting history. The 2013 NFL Conference Championships will take place next weekend and a lot of folks will be putting a little something on the two games.
First up, we start out with the final game next weekend as the AFC Title game is a rematch lost last season in heartbreaking fashion by the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens will once again travel to take on the heavily favored New England Patriots. A win by the Ravens would give outgoing and future hall of fame star Ray Lewis a chance to win his second ring, while a win by Tom and the Pats would put New England in a New Orleans-played Super Bowl for a record fourth time.
New England lost to the Bears and Packers before winning it all with a 20-17 shocker of the Rams of St. Louis. The Patriots look like they won't have any trouble as they are a big 9 1/2 point favorite over the Baltimore Ravens.
If you bet $100 dollars on the Ravens to beat the Patriots you will win $330 if Baltimore pulls off the upset. And, if you want even better odds, $100 dollars will win you a nice $800 dollar payday if the Ravens win it all!
New England is favored by 9 1/2 points, which is the second-highest spread for the Pats in AFC Title Game history. The Patriots were a 14 1/2 favorite back in 2007 when they took on the San Diego Chargers.
Over in the NFC the odds-makers don't have much faith in the #1 seed Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons are currently a 3 1/2 point home underdog against the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, in the prior 30 conference title games, no team has been a bigger underdog at home that the Falcons. However, you don't get good numbers if you take the Falcons…currently, if you lay $100 dollars, you would only win $160 if the Falcons win the game.
So as we enter the last weekend before the Super Bowl ,here are the numbers that my good friends at Pre Game.com have kindly sent me:
New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President and General Manager Mickey Loomis stepped into the radio huddle to visit with Bobby Hebert and me to talk about all things Black and Gold, and he made no excuses for the team's 7-9 season.
''We have higher expectations and we did not meet those expectations. Our goal is to make the playoffs each season weather you have to win 10 games, 11 or 12. We did not meet those expectations this season,” Loomis said.
Loomis talked with us about a variety topics, including how he is currently evaluating the 2012 season, the signing of Sean Payton and the off-season.
How bad was it? You know it’s bad when the lead broadcaster starts talking about the other team’s young players. This happened when Brent Musburger started talking about the future of Notre Dame with one minute off the clock into the third quarter of Monday’s BCS Title Game.
You see, what Musburger did is called “filling” in broadcasting. He had to begin to fill his broadcast with other things, as the game was irrelevant after the first few minutes, after Alabama jumped on the undefeated Irish and jumped out to a dominating 21-0 lead early in the first half of the game.
Notre Dame may be great one day, but right now Alabama is on a level that very few teams have been able to be on at any level of sports. Yes, everyone knew when the Tide raced out to a 21-0 lead that this was real football and this was a football team really playing well.
There would be no hopes of a “Rudy” story or that of even the fighter from Philadelphia Rock Balboa…everyone knew that the knockout blow had been landed and it was only a matter of time before the Irish fell to the mat!
Alabama is a dominant machine right now and they could end the BCS era winning their third straight and the SEC’s 8th straight title next January. At the end of three quarters the Tide had 35 points, 23 first downs, over 400 yards of offense and they were just minutes away from winning another title.
The celebration began with 14:46 left in the first half when the Tide went up 21-0 and the behind-the-scenes folks at ESPN began to say, “damn! Why couldn’t Oregon or Kansas State have remained undefeated?”
That itself may be the only way the BCS ends without an SEC team hoisting the trophy. The best shot for an SEC Team not to win the title is for an SEC Team not to get there! The rest of CFB had a shot to keep the SEC out, but they did not. See what transpires when you don’t take care of your business? What must be Georgia thinking right now, or ever Oregon or Kansas State? And what must Texas A&M be thinking as well?
Honestly, of the teams that were ranked in the top ten prior to the BCS Title Game, I think Alabama would have done the same to many of those top ten teams as they did to ND. I think Alabama would have had a commanding win over Kansas State, Florida, Stanford LSU, South Carolina…and they did pound Notre Dame.
I would say we would have all benefited if the Tide had faced a team like Oregon, Georgia or Texas A&M. But, I do believe that Alabama would have dominated everyone else in the field so don’t feel too bad Irish!
So folks, whether you like the Alabama Crimson Tide or not, whether you like the SEC or not…the only thing to do here is to get up, pick your head up, and shake the better man’s hand, because when you are dominated by the opponent from start to finish that’s the right thing to do. If you don’t, you’re just hating and not realistic about how good the other team is. And right now, Alabama is damn good! Like they say over in Tuscaloosa, RTR!
And will the national media finally learn to shut up their mouths when talking about how the SEC was down this season. Boy, was the SEC down!
OK, you all can decide what you think is more serious, but if Roger Goodell is very steadfast about safety and protecting the integrity of the National Football League, he will conduct a full-scale investigation and come down hard on the Washington Redskins and their Coach.
Back on December 9 the Washington Redskins beat the Baltimore Ravens 31-28 to keep their win streak going as Washington won seven straight games to advance to the NFC playoffs. Prized rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III was hurt in that game…and now the severity of his injury and how it was handled have come into question, with two of the most famous figures in the sport today on opposite ends of what is being reported.
During Sunday’s pre-game show before the two NFL Games, CBS played back a portion of the press conference in which Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan was asked about Griffin’s injury. This is what Coach Mike said:
'Yeah, he can go back in. ''Robert, go back in.' "That was it," Shanahan said.
Now, the rest of the story (or at least the other side) is being told, and the other side is totally different from what Coach Shanahan said.
Dr. James Andrews is one of the most famous and most respected physicians in the world and he has done numerous major surgeries on athletes like Charles Barkley, Drew Brees, and many others.
A graduate of Louisiana State University, Dr. Andrews serves as team doctor for teams such as the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Auburn Tigers, and the Washington Redskins. In other words, when athletes want the best care in the world they go to Dr. James Andrews.
Dr. Andrews said that he and his staff never even got a chance to examine RG3. Andrews went on to say that when Griffin went back on the field it scared the hell out of him. Andrews was also quoted as saying to the NFL Today, "He's doing a lot better this week, but he's still recovering and I'm holding my breath because of it.” Andrews also said, "He passed all the tests and all the functional things we do, but it's been a trying moment for me, to be honest with you."
Now my question is, what will Roger Goodell do? Folks, this is serious business. In a day and time when flags are thrown more cautiously than ever to protect the players, how could an organization and its highest ranking official allow RG3 to go back into the game without proper evaluation?
What if Griffin had been seriously injured? And what about Coach Shanahan flat-out lying, and what will be said as the Redskins’ season came to an end with perhaps the Rookie of the Year on the sidelines injured again in his team’s 24-14 loss to Seattle Seahawks?
Ed Reed was fined $55,00 this season for what was called an illegal hit. Sean Payton was suspended for a full season for not complying with the NFL about supposedly running and failing to stop a pay-for-performance program that has been since dubbed by the NFL as a “bounty” program. So are those penalties and fines benchmarks that we should look at when the commissioner comes down on the Washington Redskins? Or will we once again get some big-time dialogue from the most powerful man in sports today, as he may kindly try and make this a not-so-big of a deal.
Folks, call me what you want, but this thing stinks, and it is fitting that a man that has done a pretty foul job as the head of the NFL will have to try and clean up another mess. But this mess is not made up. This one, we know, has happened right before our eyes!
Each Thursday night during football season we have the pleasure of chatting with VR (Vegas Runner) of Pre-Game.com. Pre-game and R.J. Bell are perhaps the most popular odds keepers in the game today. They are featured regularly on ESPN, the Wall Street Journal, CBS, ABC and many others national outlets for their outstanding work. And, each week the guys over at Pre-Game kindly send me the updated odds and numbers. For example, let’s look at what’s going on for tonight’s BCS Title game between the Irish of Notre Dame and the Tide of Alabama.
Right now the overwhelming majority of folks have laid their money down on the Irish, as the nine and half points must be too much to give up. According to Pre-Game.com, 65% of all bets so far have been on Notre Dame compared to just 35% on Alabama.) However, the professional bettors are putting their money on the Crimson Tide.
Tonight’s game marks the 41st consecutive time that Alabama has been favored in a football game. And if you had bet on Notre Dame to before the season started, you would be close to cashing in some big chips. The Irish were a 50-1 long shot to win the title, and if you had put $100 dollars down on Notre Dame, you would cash in a $5,000 ticket tonight if they upset the Tide! And as expected, tonight’s national title game in Miami Gardens is projected to be the biggest bet in the history of college football, with an estimated $2 billion wagered on the game worldwide!
And if you’re looking for a cool stat, here’s one for you. In every BCS Title Game, the point spread has never come into play. So what does this mean, you might be asking? Well, what it means is that either the team favored won by more than the spread or the underdog in the game won the game outright.
Tonight’s game marks just the third time in BCS Title Game history that there is a double digit favorite. The line is currently at Alabama as a nine and half point favorite, but the Tide were a double digit favorite when the first line came out. The other two double-digit favorites both lost as Miami lost in 2003 and Florida State fell in 2001. Will history repeat itself? We shall see!
As we sit at home a little stunned and feel a different as the first time since 2008, with no playoffs for our beloved New Orleans Saints, it’s time to do like the coaches and players…and that means it’s evaluation time.
What went wrong this season? What needs to be improved on offense, defense and special teams? And what players will stay, what players will go, and what coaching changes will be made by Coach Sean Payton? All these questions will be discussed over the next few months.
So let’s try and find out exactly when the 2012 season went in the wrong direction. Yes, it’s the obvious statement, but when it comes to the New Orleans Saints, their start after the first four games of the season has been a key sign of things to come. In the Sean Payton era, success, or lack thereof, has been known after the first four games of the season.
Sure, we all know that teams that get off to a good start more than likely make it to the NFL playoffs, but in the last seven seasons when the Saints have done well through the first four games of the season, they do well the rest of the way. In 2006 the Saints began the season with a 19-14 win over the Cleveland Browns in Coach Payton’s first game as head coach of the Black and Gold. The Saints went on to win their first two games of the season, and after four games the Saints were a surprising 3-1.
Now keep those numbers in mind the rest of the way, as through four seasons under Sean Payton the Saints have begun 3-1 three times and 4-0 on one occasion back in 2009. Now on the flip side of those impressive numbers are the years when the team did not start so well.
In the three seasons in which the Saints did not make the playoffs, the club posted a 1-3 record in 2008 and two 0-4 starts in 2012 and back in 2007. The first quarter of the season has proven to be the sign of things to come for the Saints.
In 2006, the 3-1 start led to a 10-6 overall record, the NFC South Title, and the Saints earned the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs which eventually saw the team play for the NFC Crown for the first time in club history.
In 2007 the Saints started the season with a 41-10 loss to the Colts, which in turn led to a 0-4 start…and the team finished with a 7-9 record. In 2008 the Saints opened the season with a 24-20 win over the Bucs, but after that the Saints lost three straight games coming out the gates with a 1-3 record, and the team finished up the season 8-8 and out of the post season.
Then in 2009 the Saints got off to their best start in club history. Their 4-0 beginning led to a 13-3 record, the NFC South title, the #1 seed in the NFC, and the Saints beat the Vikings to earn their first trip to the Super Bowl in which they went on to beat the Colts 31-17 in Miami.
New Orleans came right back in 2010 and got off to another hot start. The Saints were featured in the league’s opening game as they hosted the Minnesota Vikings, as the Saints won their opening game for the fourth time in five seasons under Sean Payton with a 14-9 win over the Vikings. The Saints went on to a 3-1 start and finished the season 11-5 and New Orleans earned a Wild Card spot, only to lose to the 7-9 Seahawks in the first round of the NFC playoffs. 2011 saw the Saints in the league’s opening game of the season for the third time in five seasons as New Orleans visited Green Bay in a battle of the previous two World Champions.
In a classic shootout style game, the Saints fell to the Packers 42-34. The Black and Gold went on to finish the season on a nine game win streak and had a 13-3 regular season record that earned the Saints the #3 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Saints would go on to lose a heartbreaker to the 49ers in San Francisco 36-32, ending the Saints’ chances at winning two titles in three seasons.
And in 2012 the Saints’ slow start doomed them from the get-go, as another 0-4 campaign would be far too much for the Saints to overcome. The Saints would eventually get back to .500 when they reached 5-5, but the team lost their next three games and finished the season 7-9, and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
So as we ponder “what could have been,” and we will all begin to look forward to the 2013 season, history shows us the first four games of the season will be key. And next year after four games, the Saints record will be a strong indication of what the final 12 games of the regular season will bring.
I guess only time will tell, but by looking at the numbers and at the Saints’ 7-9 record, you would have to consider year one under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo a season that did not produce a passing grade for the Black and Gold defense.
The 2012 Saints defense will go down in the record books for all the wrong reasons. While the 2011 Saints offense piled up over 7,400 yards, setting an NFL record, in 2012 the Saints defense became the first to open their own club…as they are the first and only defense to allow over 7,000 yards this season. They finished by allowing a total of 7,042 yards, also a league record.
DE Will Smith said that the Saints being called the “worst defense in the National Football League” was not accurate. Don't players and coaches say you are what your record says you are? And if so don't the numbers show that the Saints defense was the worst in league history? It is what it is right?
The irony here is that exactly one season after the New Orleans Saints offense set the NFL record for most yards gained in a single season the Saints defense would go on to do the very same this season after as the Black and Gold defense allowed the most yards by any defense in league history in 2012.
During the 2012 season three players would be named the offensive player of the week for their performance against the Black and Gold defense. In fact, three of the first four weeks of the season an opposing player picked up “player of the week” honors after lighting up the Saints defense.
First up was rookie QB Robert Griffin III, making his debut in the NFL with a huge day. RG3 totaled 362 yards of offense in the Redskins’ 40-32 win over the Saints. Griffin looked as cool as the other side of the pillow in the pocket as he completed 19-of-26 passes for 320 yards and 2 TD’s.
Next up was Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles, named the AFC Offensive Player of the week as he rushed for 233 yards and one TD on 33 carries in the Chiefs’ 27-24 overtime win over the Saints.
And in week four of the season Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers was named the NFC Offensive Player of the week as he shredded the Saints defense to the tune of 319 yards. Rodgers completed 31-of-41 pass attempts for 319 yards with four TD’s and only one interception.
Moving forward, many fans are still wondering if the current Saints players have learned the defensive scheme that has been implemented by first year defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. So as we begin to review the 2012 season, let’s start with the Saints weakest part of their team, which is obviously their defense.
Total Yards allowed: 7,042. The Saints were flat out horrible when it came to yards allowed and the numbers say so. The Saints gave up 400 or more yards in 12 of their 16 games and the Saints allowed 500 or more yards in four games this season as well.
The “Big Easy” title was ever so right when it came to the Saints defense as it was easy for opposing offensive units to gain yards during the 2012 season. It was not until the Saints’ eleventh game of the season that they held an opponent under the 400-yard mark, and that came in a 31-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the Dome Thanksgiving Weekend.
The Saints gave up 500 or more yards in four games this season. The lowly KC Chiefs embarrassed the Saints defense by gaining 510 yards in a 27-24 overtime win over New Orleans in the third week of the season.
In a win the Saints allowed a then season-high 513 yards of offense against the Bucs in week six of the season. The Saints did win that game with a 35-28 victory over Tampa Bay as the club improved to 2-4 on the season with a road win.
And the final 500 yards allowance came when the Saints traveled to Denver to face the Broncos and QB Peyton Manning. The Broncos gashed the Saints for 530 yards of offense which was a season high of yards allowed by the Black and Gold defense this season.
The Saints allowed on average 440.1 yards per game in 2012.
Total Points Allowed: 454. The Saints gave up a total of 454 points this season. The points allowed is an average of 28.4 points per game which is a franchise record, as well as points allowed per game in a single season.
The Saints allowed 30 or more points in seven games this season, and the New York Giants scored 52 points in a 52-27 win over New Orleans. The loss to the Giants marked just the fourth time in franchise history the Saints allowed 50 or more points in a game, and the first time in the Sean Payton era the Saints allowed that many points.
The season's low point? It's a tie! I’d have to call the lowest point of the season for the Saints defense a three-way tie. The 52 points allowed in a 52-27 loss to the Giants was certainly bad, but we have to remember that the Saints allowed under 400 yards of offense in that game. NY had many short fields to work with as the Saints allowed a franchise record 287 kick return yards and 306 yards total on kick returns and punt returns.
But even that was not as low as what transpired in the Saints third game of the season as the visiting Kansas City Chiefs would embarrass the Saints in front of their own fans. Down 24-6 with 5:36 left in the third quarter of the game it looked as if the Saints would pick up their first win of the season.
However, in the blink of an eye, a 91-yard run would turn things into the favor of the Chiefs as they rallied for an overtime win over the Saints. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles would go on to rush for 233 yards, the second-most in franchise history.
And then the Saints saved their “best” for last in the final week of the regular season as they played host to the 6-9 Carolina Panthers. The Saints were trying to end the season with a three-game win streak but instead were flat-out embarrassed once again as they set another record.
The Saints D allowed 44 points and 530 yards of offense in their blowout loss to the Panthers. If the Panthers had not taken a knee at the end of the game, they would have gained more than the 530 yards which tied a season high allowed by the Saints this season.
Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams gashed the Saints, rushing for 210 yards on 21 carries with two touchdowns. Williams averaged an incredible 10 yards per rushing attempt against the Saints. Williams must smile each time he plays the Saints… in 2012 DW averaged eight yards per carry as he gained a total of 279 yards on 35 carries with three TD’s in two meetings against the Saints D this year.
With a record-setting defense there are going to be plenty of features done on the worst defense in the history of the National Football League. And as the off-season begins for the Saints, I guess the biggest question is whether the Saints have picked up the scheme that Coach Spags wants to use. And I hope that they have NOT, because if they have, it makes this season far worse than the record-setting numbers that this defense allowed in 2012.
So whenever the king that makes up the rules as he goes allows coach Payton to return to work, it will be very interesting to see what notes Sean has been taking and what changes he will make as soon as he’s back in the building!