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Because I write these previews on Thursday, I can’t very well give you my thoughts on yesterday’s slate of games at the moment. This is something you’re all torn up about, I’m sure, but that’s the way it goes.
Instead, I want to fill the little intro this week with an irrelevant wish:
After spacing out and driving straight on a green arrow signal, I wish there was a way I could tell the person I cut off, through some kind of mind signal, that I’m not really an asshole, just an idiot, my bad. That’d make me feel better.
With that, let’s take a look at the Monday night matchup between the New Orleans Saints (-6) at San Francisco 49ers.
Saints-49ers Monday Night Football Primer
- Saints-49ers Date: Monday, September 20
- Saints-49ers Kickoff Time: 8:30 pm
- Saints-49ers TV Network: ESPN
- Saints-49ers Announcers: Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, and Jon Gruden
- Saints-49ers Odds: Saints -4.5 / 43.5 (as of Sunday night)
Saints-49ers Monday Night Football Preview
Here are this week’s five things about the Saints and 49ers heading into Monday night.
1. Of hangovers and high hopes.
The season is still in its infancy, meaning preseason predictions remain relevant — or as relevant as they can be — in determining how a team looks coming out of the gate. The Saints may continue to induce skill-splitters upon themselves on account of being Super Bowl champions, and that is quite all right with me. It is well deserved.
And due to the victory on opening night last week, the dreaded “Super Bowl hangover” talk can be avoided for another week. The Keystone Light, though? Maybe not so much.
San Francisco, which seems to happen on a yearly basis of late, heads into this season facing heightened expectations for a division title and playoff berth. Also fueling this hope was the belief that they were the only piece of fertile land from which a playoff team could sprout in the barren wasteland that is the NFC West division.
It was supposed to be a sure thing, wasn’t it?
2. That said, both teams should play better this week.
I would hope so, for the 49ers sake at least.
Sure, New Orleans’ offense looked a little stagnant last week against a very good Minnesota defense, but factoring in two shanked field goals and a strong defensive effort, they still got away with a 14-9 win. Something tells me the offense will pick up the slack on Monday. They won’t score under 20 points for two consecutive weeks.
Back to San Francisco.
Now, I didn’t watch a second of their 60 minute mistake in Seattle, but when I say the 49ers “should” play better this week, I’m saying that as long as they turn their helmets to face the correct direction — the only logical problem that I can assume would hinder them so mightily — they “should” be a much improved team. They almost have to play better. Of course, there is one slight possible exception to this idea…
3. …Alex Smith, come on down!
I feel bad for Smith. With every subpar game he has like last week’s, the next becomes that much more important for him. I don’t think that’s the way this 49er team should work – the offense would probably be better suited if tailored around running back Frank Gore – but they seem hell-bent on making Smith a formidable passer yet.
The Saints, who are comfortable blitzing the bejesus out of any quarterback, will likely be more than happy to accommodate this. If the shaky Smith is put in some obvious passing situations, well, I like Don Draper’s chances of staying sober a whole lot better.
4. Whoever gets the early lead will be important.
San Francisco would do well in avoiding said obvious passing situations if they can get off to a good start. Maybe then Gore could get more than 17 carries, and they could control the clock a bit and trust their vaunted defense to get some stops. That’s the way they win this game: staunch defense, clock control through running, and then some lower risk passes from Smith.
If the Niners get down quickly and have to play catch-up, or worse, match the New Orleans offense point-for-point? Well, see #3 above. It’s not going to be pretty.
5. Reggie returns to California, sans Heisman.
I doubt any of this Heisman Trophy ridiculousness will impact Bush’s play on the field (just like him forfeiting the award doesn’t impact the fact that, you know, he actually won the thing, no matter how much the NCAA and USC are trying to use the “Men in Black” mind eraser on everyone), but if he were to score, I wouldn’t mind seeing a Heisman pose in the end zone, just for kicks.
Saints-49ers Monday Night Football Prediction
The 49ers are a better team than they showed last week in Seattle. They will have a rebound performance, especially at home. But they drew an unfortunate matchup here (they really could use a do-over on that Seahawk game).
The Saints have had a long week to prepare, and even against this Niner defense, I expect New Orleans to put up more than 14 points. And even if they do try and control this game, I see San Francisco at some point falling behind. Does anyone really see Alex Smith keeping up with Drew Brees and a Saints offense due for a breakout? \
If so, I’ll have a drink of whatever you’re sippin’ on.
Saints-49ers MNF Prediction: Saints 28, 49ers 14.
Saints-49ers MNF Spread Pick: Saints -4.5
Saints-49ers MNF Over-Under pick: Under
*Payton photo courtesy of Deadspin, via reader J.R.
*Smith photo courtesy of Otto Greule Jr., Getty Images.
*Draper photo courtesy of http://warmingglow.uproxx.com/2010/07/time-to-start-drinking/don-draper-whiskey.
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