The AFC playoff picture is anything but clear as several teams are still vying for a position in the postseason competition. The Indianapolis Colts, the Cleveland Browns, the Buffalo Bills and the Oakland Raiders are not yet out of contention, even if the Colts and the Raiders are virtual impossibilities, and there is still a hair-thin possibility that one could make it all the way. The Colts will find out tonight how the rest of the year plays out as they get ready to take on the NFC’s powerhouse, the New Orleans Saints, as the look to capitalize on the 49ers stumble.
49ers Stumble Opens The Door?
If the Saints win, they advance and pick up a record of 11-3, matched by the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. No one had expected the 49ers to be down three games, but a surprise stumble at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons yesterday turned their world upside down. The top seeds in the NFC are anything but certain and New Orleans is going to do everything it can tonight to ensure it picks up the first spot.
Tonight’s game will be played in Who Dat land, which is really good news for the Saints. Their fans know how to rally the crowd and help put pressure on opponents at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. If the Saints win, they not only have a better chance at top seed in the NFC, but they will also pick up home-field advantage, always a boost for any team.
The days of the voodoo curse on the Superdome are long over. After having gone 33 years with no playoff win, a voodoo priest came in, cleared all the negative spirits from the grounds and the Saints haven’t looked back since. They’ve won six playoff games at home since then and are once again looking at an incredible season. They’ve taken the NFC South title already and have shown a solid performance all season, just like last year.
The Colts have been in a slump lately, dropping five of their last six games. They couldn’t develop their defense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week as they lost 38-35, and will find an even tougher offense led by Drew Brees tonight. The Bucs game was just a prelude to what is coming tonight.
The Colts are having to deal with injuries in the NFL that are hampering their ability to go above and beyond and secure needed victories. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is tentative with a calf injury and his status won’t be known until the final lineup is given before the game. Even if he’s in, he won’t be at 100%. He’s already had to deal with a season riddled with injuries and hasn’t been the force the team needed him to be. Free agent wide receiver Dontrelle Inman has been brought in, as of last week, to try to fill the void and, even though he has experience with the team, a week to get up to speed isn’t very much.
Drew Brees is going to do what he does best – move the chains and put points on the board. Alvin Kamara, who has been inconsistent for part of the year, is going to find his groove and help that happen. Throw in the record-setting receiver Michael Thomas for good measure, and the Saints are going to be unstoppable in capitalizing on the stumble from the 49ers. The spread favors the Saints at -9 and the over-under sits at 47. With a moneyline of -432 to the Saints, gamblers have to pick the favorite, or face losing out on some extra holiday cash.