Dig Baton Rouge

Why Saints fans should root for the Falcons

By Casey Gisclair

What I am about to say is going to upset the Kool Aid-sipping New Orleans Saints fans who read our pages.

To the fans who put down the Kool Aid cup a few months ago and are realists, the message won’t be nearly as harsh because you’ll probably agree.

But the truth hurts sometimes, so here goes: I hope the New Orleans Saints miss the playoffs.

I do. I hope the Atlanta Falcons or Carolina Panthers win enough games in the final few weeks of the season to punch the ticket to represent the NFC South in the playoffs.

I see you out there about to fling that Kool Aid cup at me. Just hold it for another minute or two and let me explain. I assure you that there’s a method to the madness.

After 13 regular season games and eight losses, I think we can all agree that the Saints aren’t any good, right? Sure, they have their moments and their flashes – all NFL teams do. That’s the byproduct of a parity-stricken league where every team is an 8-8 roster on paper.

But by and large, New Orleans is a stale team devoid of playmakers offensively and lacking a pulse on the defensive side of the ball.

Sure, we all know that the Saints might win the NFC South and earn a home playoff game. It feels like we’ve been hashing and rehashing that scenario for months now in this column. Could they win that Superdome playoff game? At this point, I doubt it. But for the sake of argument, let’s answer in a more positive light and say, ‘Maybe so.’

But could they then win the road game – likely against Seattle or Green Bay that would follow? Absolutely, positively not. That game would be over by the middle of the second-half – if not sooner.

And that’s why it’s time we all suck it up, swallow the tough, icky medicine and realize that the above-mentioned playoff fate would be better suited for Atlanta or Carolina than it would be for New Orleans.

Need proof? Just look at the NFL Draft.

You see, when you’re a non-playoff team, your fate in the draft is easy. You pick based on the number of wins that you’ve earned in the past season. The fewer wins, the earlier you pick.

That part is easy. There’s no sense in even explaining that, because if you care enough about New Orleans to be this deep into this column, you’ll already know how the NFL Draft works.

But what is something worth explaining is this. When you’re a playoff team, the whole records and win/loss record formula go out of the window. In those situations, you draft based on where you finished in the playoffs, not where you finished in the regular season.

And that’s a situation that will be absolutely disastrous to the future NFC South Champion.

By reaching the playoffs, the NFC South Champion will drop to the back-half of the draft – from the top to the middle.

#TellDIG: Do you want the Saints to make the playoffs, or set themselves up for a better draft position in 2015?

If they win that first game, they will shift even further back – precious spots that could be used to select a high-end standout player that could fix the multiple holes that all of the teams in this division have.

In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks finished 7-9 and won the NFC West. Instead of picking No. 13 in the draft, they ended up picking No. 25. Instead of having a chance to grab Robert Quinn (No. 14), Mike Pouncey (No. 15) or Ryan Kerrigan (No. 16), they ended up with an offensive tackle who isn’t much of an impact player within his team.

You know what the other teams in that division got as consolation prizes for falling short of 7-9 and missing postseason? The Cardinals got Patrick Peterson, the 49ers got Aldon Smith and the Rams got Quinn. All three have been to Pro Bowls.

So for the Kool Aid sippers, I ask you what’s better? Making the playoffs and having no shot to win it all, or missing the playoffs and having a much-better draft pick?

With a defense as bad as the Saints have right now, I want the picks, and I want to fix my chances in 2015. To do that, we all must first admit that 2014 is broken and can’t be repaired.

Go Falcons. Go Panthers.

Win that NFC South. Become a playoff team.

You’ll regret it later.

 

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