Monday, October 16, 2006

Saints or Seahawks?

I've been having this debate in a fantasy league with a myopic Seahawk fan friend of mine. Like, I would argue, most people in the media and in fandom, he thinks the Saints are pretenders -- a "good story" -- destined to wake up at some point in the season and realize that they're the New Orleans Saints.

I disagree. I think they're the second-best team in the NFC right now, behind only the Bears. Before you say I'm wrong, consider the following:

First off, the Saints are 5-1 with their only loss coming on the road to the Panthers by 3 points. The Seahawks are 4-1 against almost exactly the same strength of schedule, and their one loss was by 31 points in their only real test of the season. They needed a 54-yard field goal to beat an overrated Rams team (thanks, Bill Simmons) and beat the Lions by a field goal as well.

Personnel-wise, they're very similar teams. Brees and Hasselbeck are basically the same quarterback: two Pro Bowls apiece, they both throw nice short and mid-range balls with decent accuracy but lack real cannon arms. Neither is very mobile (snicker). McAllister has as many Pro Bowl trips as Alexander and, while not as good, is probably the best running back other than Alexander during the last five-year span. He also played on much worse teams with much worse offensive lines. They have similar styles of play, are almost the exact same size, and while Alexander's credentials read better, he's more one-dimensional -- McAllister's a better pass-catcher. Alexander's also two years older and showing signs of wear. Joe Horn is like an older, slightly slower Darrell Jackson with much better hands. And the Seahawks don't have Reggie Bush.

Other things worth noting:
Total defense (NFC):
New Orleans 5th
Seattle 6th

Total offense (NFC):
NO 4th
Seahawks 14th

Too bad the Seahawks have a cupcake schedule, or I'd say the Saints were a lock for home-field. As it is, the Hawks can lose to every good team they play -- Chicago, San Diego and Denver -- and go 13-3.

But come playoff times things will be interesting. And right now, New Orleans is clearly the better team.


Anonymous said...

Justin, Justin, Justin —

Deuce McAlister since 2001: 4,973 rushing yards, 1,468 receiving yards, 44 TDs,

LaDainian Tomlinson since 2001: 7,768 (that's 3,000 MORE!) rushing yards, 2,566 receiving yards, 87 (that's almost TWICE as many) touchdowns.

So he's maybe the best runner not named Alexander or Tomlinson. Or about six other names I won't get into here.

What's next? Chicago is a horrible city?

I want my gnome!

Anonymous gnone-lover

Diesel said...

Stats? Are you giving me stats to back up an argument?!?

I dunno ... Shawn Alexander just feels like a better running back than LT. Plus, Jesus doesn't heal LT's injuries.

St said...

Sorry, anonymous ... I'm so NFC-centric that I forgot about LT. Tomlinson's stats have got to be better than even Alexander's, right?

I still doubt there are six other running backs who have been better than Deuce since 2001. And he still did it for much worse teams than anybody else.

I wasn't the one who said Chicago was a horrible city! And your gnome is just too fragile! I'm used to the more durable gnomes we had in Tombstone. We bronzed them, like hospice nurses.

Anonymous said...

While we're using — gasp! — facts to back up arguments, yes, LT's been better. But it's close, and I honestly thought it wouldn't be.

Since Alexander's played an extra year, I averaged out a typical game for each guy:

Alexander: 80.8 rushing yards, 1 TD per game since 2000

LT: 92.47 rushing yards, 1.04 TDs per game since 2001.

Of course, this doesn't take into account that LT did it against superior AFC talent.

(in Mel GIbson voice): "Give me back my gnome!"