Belfast American Football Writing

I write a column on American Football for a local paper - here you can read the reports a couple of days before they go in print; and my confused waffles...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Saints alive!

IT’S an unlikely story – but the New Orleans Saints are one of the few teams going into week four unbeaten.

Last year they were without a stadium as the Louisiana Superdome was out of commission in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and while they got sympathy, they got little else out of the season. Things look different a year on.

With New Orleans’ victory over Atlanta Monday night, the Saints’ Sean Payton became the third man in the past 75 years to become head coach of a team that won three or fewer games the previous season and guide it to three consecutive wins to begin the next season.

This Sunday the Saints will play in Carolina, where Payton will face one of the three coaches to accomplish the feat – the Panthers’ John Fox. Fox (’97-01) and Payton (’99-02) were assistants together at the New York Giants, serving as the defensive and offensive coordinators, respectively, on its Super Bowl XXXV team.

While the Saints record is on the line, there will be other teams destined to lose that unbeaten record when the Seattle Seahawks travel to Chicago and the San Diego Chargers take on the Baltimore Ravens.

All you need to know about these two – Chargers No. 1 in NFL defense, Ravens No. 2 -- can be found in the league’s “touchdowns allowed” column. In five games (San Diego had a bye last week), they have surrendered a total of three TDs.

“We play with the attitude that we will be a dominating defense,” says Chargers corner Quentin Jammer. “It’s all about attitude.”

Of course, the Ravens, with the likes of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed don’t lack in that department. They lead the league in takeaways/giveaways with a plus-10 margin.

The big loss for Seattle going to Chicago will be 2005 NFL MVP RB Shaun Alexander will miss several weeks with a broken left foot.

And it is a week when injuries were subject of much comment when Miami QB Chris Simms suffered so many big hits last week that he was operated on after his match to have his spleen removed.


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