Football Worry

July 18, 2007

I looked at the over/under lines for NFL teams earlier this week, and they had the Saints at 7 or 7 1/2. In other words, half the people who put their money on the line don't think the Saints will have a winning season, and the other half do. I was expecting a line of around 9 1/2. Yes, the Saints have a tough schedule, given its championship-game non-division schedule. Furthermore, the rest of the NFC South should be much improved. But its hard for me to imagine a team with this much offensive power losing more than half of its games. It almost seems like an easy-money sucker bet.

Don't get me wrong. The odds are staggeringly against the Saints making it to the NFC Championship game again. The last decade of NFL is chock full of NFC teams that go to the championship or even to the Super Bowl, who don't even win their division the next season. I'll leave the task of digging up specific examples to more serious researchers, but I seem to remember this being the case with Atlanta, Carolina, and Tampa Bay recently. (What do you know! All NFC South!)

As of today, I'll predict a 9-7 season and a wild-card spot in the playoffs. Remember that this is my pick today. As the season gets closer, I'll get more and more geeked, to the point of first game kickoff, when I'll be sure that the Saints will be 16-0, waltzing into the Superbowl, and winning the big game by 30 points or more.

But today, let's face reality. Never in our lifetimes has there been a season like last, pairing LSU and Saints success so remarkably. And it's not likely that we will ever see such a season again.

Which is one of the many reasons that I'm half expecting the Tigers to flop.

The preseason prognostications are good. I've seen rankings from two to five in the country. This reminds me of the summer of 1989.

That was the summer before I started my first semester at LSU. Expectations were high. LSU was ranked somewhere around 5 or 7 by The Sporting News, which back then was the only major summertime preview glossy. The head coach complained that it wasn't high enough.

They ranked LSU's special teams as the best in the country. We learned how much sports writers know when Texas A&M took the season's opening kickoff all the way back for a touchdown.

It turned out that we didn't have much of a team that year. Or the year after. Or the year after. The Mike Archer era turned into the Curley Hallman era, and then to the Gerry Dinardo era. I was never a student during a season where LSU played a bowl game.

I don't know if we're in for a decade-long dark era, but there is one more bad sign. Mike the Tiger died. And you can't just roll down to PetSmart and pick up a new tiger cub.

I don't know how one goes about getting a new tiger. You have to find a zoo willing to give up a cub or willing to breed a couple for them. And whoever breeds them is going to be stuck with the rest of the litter. It's not like LSU wants three. Or that they're going to find a lot of other people who want the left overs.

I don't like LSU's chances of winning if there isn't a tiger in the cage come game time. That's just my gut talking, but that's how I see it.