Five Reasons You Might Want to Bet on the Saints in the Super Bowl

Everyone loves an underdog. But you’re probably going to need better rationale than “ah, I’m just betting on the team facing longer odds” come Super Sunday. Justin Brown gives a detailed breakdown in favor of the Saints.

Every Friday, I’m compiling a list of five things that meet one criterion. “What is that criterion,” you ask? Well, it’s going to change every week and you’re just going to have to try and keep up.

This week…

Five Reasons You Might Want to Bet on the Saints in the Super Bowl

Everyone loves an underdog. But you’re probably going to need better rationale than “ah, I’m just betting on the team facing longer odds” come Super Sunday. Thus, you need to memorize every word from this point on so that you can effectively defend your gambling choices.

Caution: this list is going to lean very heavily towards the Saints for… obvious reasons. (Don’t memorize this part.)

5. How quickly we forget

The three most popular reasons people are favoring the Colts:

  • The Colts have won every game they’ve tried to win, this year
  • The Colts have been on the big stage before
  • Peyton Manning is the MVP and arguably the greatest quarterback ever

Fair enough. But do me a favor and think back to 2007, when the New England Patriots entered the Super Bowl carrying these same three advantages against an even larger underdog opponent.

How’d that work out for the Patriots?

(Also: while Manning has had a pretty astounding 18-month stretch, don’t forget that, prior to this year’s playoffs, the guy was 7-8 in his postseason career so… let’s pump the brakes on all the foregone conclusions.)

4. The Saints are not as inexperienced as you think

As mentioned above, one of the biggest advantages the Colts are said to hold over the Saints is that of big game experience. The Colts have been here before and the Saints have not.

While there’s no way to deny that the Colts won the Super Bowl three years ago, it is not as if this Saints team is in the playoffs for the first time ever. Do you remember where the Saints were, three years ago? They made it to the NFC Championship game. We almost had a Colts-Saints Super Bowl in February 2007. Does experience not count if you lose?

In addition to having the same coaching staff (overlooked bit of experience: Saints’ head coach Sean Payton was the offensive coordinator for the 2000 NFC champion New York Giants), there are several relevant Saints from that 2006 team who are still on the team:

  • Drew Brees
  • Reggie Bush
  • Marques Colston
  • Jahri Evans
  • Scott Fujita
  • Jonathan Goodwin
  • Charles Grant
  • Roman Harper
  • Devery Henderson
  • Lance Moore
  • Jamar Nesbit
  • Scott Shanle
  • Will Smith
  • Jon Stinchcomb
  • Zach Strief

And don’t forget that Bush, Colston, Moore, Evans, Harper, and Strief were all rookies in 2006 (translation: they’re better, now).

On top of that? The Saints have since added several players who have playoff experience acquired on other teams. Kyle Eckel, Heath Evans, Randall Gay, and David Thomas were all on the 2007 Patriots team that went to the Super Bowl (among others). Darren Sharper played on several playoff teams in Green Bay and Minnesota. Kendrick Clancy played on several good Steelers teams before joining the Saints in 2007. Chris McAlister played on the perpetually playoff-bound Baltimore Ravens, including their 2000 Super Bowl team.

That’s 22 players who have pretty solid big game experience. So… yeah, I think the Saints should be just fine, experience-wise.

3. The Saints’ offense is good, remember?

Maybe it’s because they packed it in during the last three weeks of the regular season but everyone seems to have completely forgotten that this year’s Saints’ offense was/is astoundingly prolific.

To that point: why hasn’t more been made of the fact that the offensive numbers for the 2009 Saints bear a stark resemblance to that of the 1999 St. Louis Rams (that was “The Greatest Show on Turf” that went on to win the Super Bowl, if you’ll remember)?

Total points: Rams – 526, Saints – 510

Points per game: Rams – 32.9, Saints – 31.9

Total yards: Rams – 6412, Saints – 6461

Yards per play: Rams – 6.5, Saints – 6.3

First downs: Rams – 335, Saints – 348

Completions: Rams – 343, Saints – 373

Pass attempts: Rams – 530, Saints – 544

Pass yards: Rams – 4353, Saints – 4355

Pass touchdowns: Rams – 43, Saints – 34

Interceptions: Rams – 15, Saints – 12

Net yards per attempt: Rams – 7.7, Saints – 7.7

Passing 1st downs: Rams – 207, Saints – 215

Rush attempts: Rams – 431, Saints – 468

Rush yards: Rams – 2059, Saints – 2106

Rush touchdowns: Rams – 13, Saints – 21

Yards per rush: Rams – 4.8, Saints – 4.5

Rushing 1st downs: Rams – 102, Saints – 115

Turnovers: Rams – 31, Saints – 28

Fumbles lost: Rams – 16, Saints – 16

The biggest difference between the two offenses is that the Rams had Marshall Faulk (over 2300 combined yards from scrimmage in 1999) while the Saints depend on three running backs (Mike Bell, Pierre Thomas, and Reggie Bush).

But still, look at those numbers. Pretty good.

2. Common opponents

Though admittedly not the most empirical tool of comparison, examining the common opponents of the two Super Bowl teams can effectively illustrate the differences between the two and whether or not the underdog really deserves to be the underdog.

Both the Colts and the Saints played the following teams this past year:

  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Buffalo Bills
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New England Patriots
  • New York Jets
  • St. Louis Rams

We’ll throw out the Colts’ losses to the Jets and Bills in Weeks 16 and 17 respectively, as the team clearly was not trying to win either game. However, the Colts did play the Jets again in the playoffs, so we can consider that Colts-Jets game for comparison.

a. Arizona Cardinals

The Colts won at Arizona in Week 3, 31-10.

The Saints won at home in Round 2, 45-14.

b. Miami Dolphins

The Colts won at Miami in Week 2, 27-23.

The Saints won at Miami in Week 6, 46-34.

c. New England Patriots

The Colts won at home in Week 10, 35-34.

The Saints won at home in Week 11, 38-17.

d. New York Jets

The Colts won at home in the playoffs, 30-17.

The Saints won at home in Week 4, 24-10.

e. St. Louis Rams

The Colts won at St. Louis in Week 6, 42-6.

The Saints won at St. Louis in Week 9, 28-23.

So, as you can clearly see, the Saints performed just as well as the Colts in these five comparable scenarios.

1. The Saints are not supposed to win

All right, after all that, I still can’t come up with a better reason than this. It’s the Saints! They’ve never been to the Super Bowl, their team has a long history of losing, and they are the decided underdog in this game.

Go Saints.

Justin Brown is a writer and artist living in Virginia. He channels most of his mind's molten river of creativity into his blog Esteban Was Eaten!. For even more information about him, check out his website.

  • Mark

    First off, reason #2 which is wrong

    The Saints nearly lost to a terrible team (Rams) and they allowed more points against almost every opponent (except the Patriots who are a major rival of the Colts and the Jets who were completely different team when they met the Saints)

    But I think most people who are putting it on the Colts acknowledge that they have a good offense with a lot of weapons. And while the Saints aren’t a bunch of rookies you could hardly argue they could match the experience of several Colts players who have actually won a Superbowl already.

    I also completely disagree with the first point where you seem to be saying “Underdogs win”. Not usually. The Patriots may have lost to the Giants two years ago but they won their two trips before that when they were favorites. And so did the Colts in 07 and the Steelers in 06 and 09.

    I don’t really see the Saints as huge underdogs in this one. But after reading this, I feel like they’d almost need a miracle to win.

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  • http://estebanwaseaten.tumblr.com Justin

    I think you are missing the point of this list. My directive was not “here’s why the Saints WILL win” or “why the Saints are a better team”. It was a list of reasons you can use to explain why you would bet on the Saints.

    I.E., if you’re watching the Super Bowl with a large group and people ask you why you chose to bet on the Saints, you can cite the above reasons (and many more) rather than just shrugging and looking like someone who randomly guessed.

    Reason #5 was more of a “don’t forget that what we believe to be certain does not always prove to be so” rather than “the underdogs always win”. Every reason being given as to why the Colts are the favorite does bear truth but every one of those reasons has, at one time or another in Super Bowl history, turned out to be meaningless (or, at the least, not as decisive a factor as the Super Bowl build-up led us to assume); the Pats-Giants example just served as the most succinct and memorable.

    Reason #4 is not a claim that the Saints are definitely going to be as-comfortable in the Super Bowl as Indy but, as that section heading suggests, merely to point out that the Saints are not woefully unprepared for the game (as many media stories have intimated). And even if the Saints WERE all newbies, there were many great performances in the Super Bowl from supposedly inexperienced players in recent years (see: the 2008 Steelers and Cardinals, 2007 Giants, 2006 Colts, 2003 Panthers, 2002 Bucs, 2001 Patriots, 2000 Ravens, and 1999 Rams) so it’s not always a deciding factor, anyway.

    Also: there are only 19 players from that 2006 Super Bowl team still on the current Colts roster, which seems like an overlooked bit of information. And as long as I’m throwing out statistics, consider this: the Saints have the best red zone defense in the league. Pow.

    The “Common Opponents” point, as stated, was not meant to serve as an ironclad display of capabilities. What it was meant to exhibit was what many people seem to have forgotten over the last month or so: the Saints had a really good season. Minnesota may have looked better (fumbles aside) in the NFC title game but it’s not an accident that the Saints are in the Super Bowl nor were their regular season wins a result of smoke and mirrors against a really simple schedule. The Colts’ defense may have held the five common opponents to fewer points than the Saints did but the Saints scored more against that same group of teams — one statistic surely carries as much weight as the other, if we’re trying to rationalize a bet made on one game. Yes, the Saints nearly lost to the Rams but if you’re going to go down that road, then don’t forget that the Colts barely beat the Jaguars twice, the 49ers, and the Texans. It’s not a science but it’s relevant, recently-disregarded information (plus: it’s not like I made it the #1 reason).

    My final point was not “the underdog wins, so bet the underdog”. My point was that when someone asks you why you bet the Saints, I don’t believe there is a better reason to give than “they’re the underdog so, why not”, just from an entertainment and enjoyability standpoint — especially with this Saints team and all that comes with them.

  • http://www.perezsolomon.com Perez Solomon

    I wish I had read this 2 days ago :(

    This man is a genius!

    http://www.perezsolomon.com