The Monday Night Football game was three days ago, but like a lot of people I can’t stop thinking about it. It was as interesting as a game can be. The people of New Orleans obviously thought so – two-thirds of TVs in the city were tuned to the game, and that’s better ratings than any Super Bowl has ever gotten in the city. There are two peripheral issues that come up around the Saints that I find interesting:
What’s next for Gregg Williams? – Williams has done a remarkable job turning around the New Orleans defense, and he’s going to be a hot commodity in the offseason coaching carousel. If he wants to be a head coach again he’ll stand a good chance of it. But will he? And, more importantly, should he? Williams was a pretty lousy head coach in Buffalo. He was far too conservative in his offensive play-calling, and he didn’t seem to thrive when the pressure got cranked up. He’ll have learned from that, and he’d probably be a better coach this time around. On the other hand, he’d have to go a long, long way to be a better head coach than he is a defensive coordinator. He’s got a good thing going in New Orleans, and if he were to be a coach he’s going to be on a significantly worse team. If I were him I wouldn’t go anywhere, but what do I know?
Will the Saints or the Colts go 16-0? – Two teams at 11-0 and looking as good as they do will obviously stir up the undefeated discussions. Let’s look at New Orleans first. With the Redskins, Bucs , and Panthers remaining they are reasonably sure to make it to 14-0. A trip to Atlanta in two weeks could be easier than expected if Matt Ryan and Michael Turner aren’t healthy. Dallas the week after that is the biggest challenge, but the game takes place in New Orleans, and the Cowboys aren’t as good as the Pats in my eyes, so it is certainly winnable. The Saints will be favored in all five of their games if nothing changes, and all five are certainly winnable. Beyond that, the Vikings are only a game behind the Saints in the NFC standings and have a reasonable schedule, and home field advantage is crucial, so the Saints aren’t likely to let their foot off the gas for a while yet. Injuries on defense are a concern, but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Saints run the table.
The Colts are a different story. Sort of. The Colts have a schedule that is at least as easy as the Saints’. Their two toughest games are the next two – Tennessee and Denver. If they can survive those two home games then they are left with three very winnable games – Jacksonville, the Jets, and the Bills. That’s a schedule that the Colts could easily run. The question is whether they will want to. They have already clinched their division, and could clinch home field advantage through the playoffs in a couple of weeks. Jim Caldwell is a TonyDungy disciple, and Dungy was notorious for taking games off at the end of the season and resting starters if things were wrapped up. The Colts probably have a better chance of running the table if they played their best, but I’m not convinced they will. The Jets and the Bills may not be good enough to beat Peyton Manning, but they could beat Jim Sorgi.