Monday, November 24, 2008

Packers and Saints: playoff bound?

Monday Night Football was intriguing last night, if for no other reason than it showed two teams with potential to make the playoffs. Can either the Packers or Saints get to the 'offs? Let's break it down one by one:

The Packers

The Packers are really banged up on defense, with Nick Barnett the latest of victims, but if they could somehow patch it up, the Pack might be back!

The Packers have the Fifth WORST rush defense in the NFL, BUT they allow the 3rd fewest passing yards per game. The Packers, going into last night, were +7 in turnovers. They're fairly mediocre in passing AND rushing, but my guess is, Rodgers could recover from his shoulder injury and turn things around. Even now, Rodgers has a decent 94.5 QB rating. That's not bad for a guy in his first full year as a starter.

Best of all, the Pack have two things working for them. First of all, the rest of their division is a joke. The Bears are a mere 6-5 and still have to play the Saints themselves. The Vikings are flat-out LUCKY to be above .500 with their lousy +7 point differential and -2 turnover ratio. They're falling out quick. Secondly, the Packers have a very easy schedule down the stretch. They'll get to play Carolina, Houston, and Jacksonville all in a row. I like the odds.

The Saints

The Saints looked good last night, and offensively, they are very very good. The Saints lead the NFL in Passing Yards per game, plus they're the 5th best scoring team in the NFL (ironically, four of the top five are in the NFC!).

Unfortunately, NFL teams are required to play DEFENSE. The Saints are rather awful on defense: ranked 18th against the run and 24th against the pass. Let's face it, the Saints aren't fooling anybody.

To make matters worse, the Saints are -5 in turnovers going into tonight's game, and they're only +39 in point differential. For a team that is among the NFL scoring leaders, having a measly +39 point differential is down-right pathetic. For their six wins, that's equivalent to a lousy 6.5 point margin of victory per game. Note: The Packers have a similar point differential.

Finally, the Saints face a decently tough schedule down the stretch. The Saints play at Tampa Bay, vs Atlanta, and at Chicago in consecutive weeks.

On paper, it looks like the Packers have a better shot to make the playoffs. If somehow Green Bay can return most of its injured defense, they could be, *might* be, a dark horse in the playoffs. Frankly, I doubt either team has what it takes to get that coveted playoff spot. We'll see.

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