POSTED Mon. Dec 30, 2013

Drew Brees and the Saints closed out the regular season on a positive night as they walloped the Buccaneers to lock down a wildcard slot. Drew was unstoppable, throwing four touchdown passes and rushing for another. Pierre notched the other touchdown on the ground, as the Tampa defense reeled for 60 straight minutes.

The Saints only got three more first downs than the Bucs, and the teams each ran 62 plays on 12 drives, but the Saints finished three drives on 40-plus yard touchdown passes and ground out over 34 minutes of possession with the ground game. Brees finished the season second to Manning in most relevant passing categories, including touchdowns. Side note: The touchdown differential between Manning and Brees’ totals this season is 16, which was RG3’s total this year in thirteen games.

Mike Glennon looked decent early in the game, throwing for a couple of touchdowns that included a flea flicker bomb to Tiquan Underwood in blown coverage. I miss Kenny Vaccaro already. But the Buccaneers proved to be merely a speed bump on the path to the playoffs, and the game was over by half time. Their horrible coach was fired during the writing of this article.

The first part of the journey is now over, but the challenges are just beginning for “The Fellowship of the Lis.” Before we get a return of the king, we’re going to have to handle the two towers. Orthanc, the black tower of Isengard, is Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, which is home to the most inhospitable sports fans outside of Brazilian futbol.

I have a lot of experience with the fans of the NFC East, and I have been to games at both the old Vets stadium and the Linc. Seattle fans will yell and make tons of noise and their team will beat you and they’ll buy you a craft beer and a latte afterward and show you a good time. Philadelphia fans will get drunk, make noise and, win or lose, stab you and your family in the parking lot afterward. They are a nightmare, and every ostensibly hyperbolic thing you hear about them is true.

The good thing about Eagles fans is that they quit on their team faster than any other fans in sports. The Saints will need to go in and demoralize them, exploiting their inconsistent and often porous defense with the wizardry of our Gandalf, Andrew Brees.

The problem for the Saints this weekend is the evil wizard who awaits us in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly. His rookie season as a NFL coach has been impressive, molding goofy Nick Foles into a franchise quarterback at the helm of one of the league’s most dangerous offenses. Given the injuries in our defensive backfield, and that the hapless Roman Harper will probably be starting, the Saints will have to score a lot to win this game.

That being said, the Eagles are an unpredictable home team. Two weeks ago they beat the Bears by a million points. Two months ago they lost to the lowly 2013 New York Giants. Philly’s home record is only 4-4 this year, and they are a very beatable team.

If we conquer the Eagles, we will have to travel into the depths of Mordor, toward the great, malignant eye of Microsoft that sits atop CenturyLink Field, the Barad-dur of the Pacific Northwest. Our visit there a month ago resulted in the worst pummeling of the Brees/Payton era. But a week ago, the Arizona Cardinals, a team the Saints crushed, marched into CenturyLink and won. Therefore, there is some transitive or Pythagorean principle by which we can also beat the Seahawks in Seattle. The key is to stall out their offense and to not commit turnovers. Against that defense, the latter is a tall order. But if dunderhead Carson Palmer can do it, then god dammit, Drew Brees can do it to.

Photo courtesy of The New Orleans Saints.

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