I took a shower and returned to sort through other forms of “teaser,” including hair salons and chocolate factories until I found what I was looking for. A website boldly advertised “brain teasers and mind games.” And that is what the local football team is doing to its fans this season. We are all the victims of a giant hoax, thanks to the local NFL affiliate. Teaser is not to be confused with Taser, but either could be used to describe what the local football team has done to its fan base this year. The Saints go on the road and win a game. They come home to the formerly friendly Superdome and they can't beat Tulane’s band.
Supporting this hypothesis was the Saints’ effortless 31-15 win at Chicago Monday night, a game that was not as close as the score indicated. The secondary intercepted three Jay Cutler passes, while the pass rushers sacked the NFL’s most well-paid hapless quarterback seven times. Drew Brees' offense was efficient and productive. The Bears aren’t very good, but the win reflects a season that has never been experienced in these parts before. The Saints have been good, and the Saints have been bad, but this season, the Saints team has teased its loyal fans with an equal dose of each.
After limping to a 2-4 record, the Saints convincingly took care of Green Bay at home and Carolina on the road. Who Dat Nation knew the ship had been righted, the NFC South title was assured and they might even run the table. But then, the team failed to rush San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick on 4th and forever in the final seconds, which gift-wrapped an unlikely 49er victory. The next two games also were at home, but the Bengals and Ravens enjoyed the Saints’ hospitality to dole out two more losses.
The fans were prepared the next week, knowing disaster loomed at Pittsburgh, one of the more inhospitable places in the NFL. Of course, the Saints winked into the camera and beat the Steelers like a borrowed mule. Whipsawed all season, the innocent Who Dats welcomed to town the limping division rival Carolina only to be teased again. The Panthers avenged their earlier loss by not only beating the Saints but embarrassing them in the worst loss of the Payton-Brees dynasty. But by now, the more wizened fans had started to figure it out. The Saints would go to Chicago, otherwise known as the Who Dat Memorial Gardens, and look like the ’85 Bears in Black and Gold. Sure enough, that is exactly what they did.
Their 6-8 record is tops in the division, and holding on would assure a home playoff game. This week’s obstacle to such bliss is their long-time nemesis, the Atlanta Falcons, who come to town Sunday. Will the Saints continue to play the role of teaser, losing again in the once-friendly confines, or will they sprinkle their teasing with holiday cheer? We won’t know until dusk on Sunday, but I would suggest Saints fans turn the tables on this long slog of playful torment. Come to the game dressed from top to bottom in red, Santa Clause beard is optional, and cheer loud for the Falcons. Only that way will the Saints think they are on the road where it’s okay to win the game.