While the NFL is in the midst of a COVID outbreak, the Saints are preparing to keep their season off of a respirator. And over in the NBA, the Pelicans are in search of one last booster before firing their GM and losing Zion Williamson.
But first, the NFL.
Aaron Rodgers and 75 players later, the NFL finds itself possibly needing to institute a mask mandate – amongst the players. That is not a misprint, the number is 75. In the last week, 75 NFL players have tested positive for COVID. 9 alone, including Odell Beckham Jr, have come from the Rams. The Cleveland Browns have 8 cases. The Saints themselves dealt with losing Cameron Jordan, Mark Ingram, and Ty Montgomery. The week before that, the Cowboys lost their head coach. You see where this is going. COVID has slow burned itself into an outbreak that’s threatening wreck what’s left of a lot of teams’ seasons. If the Saints lose to the Bucs on Sunday night, they may find themselves one of those teams quarantined from the playoffs.
Who would’ve thunk it when the Saints sat at 5-2, a game from the division lead. Yes, Jameis Winston was playing petrified football. Mainly because he was throwing to not one respectable receiver. But with the way the defense was playing, people assumed that Sean Payton would squeeze out enough wins to get the Saints into the playoffs. Then Winston got hurt, and Trevor Siemian happened. Now the Saints are 6-7, banged up. They are fighting with 5 other teams for the last 2 playoff spots.
And you guessed it. Who do they play on Sunday night? Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback this part of the Milky Way. The good news is that the Saints own Tom Brady ever since he’s been with the Bucs. They’ve whipped Brady and the Bucs in 3 straight regular season games (don’t let the score of that last game fool you). And if Drew Brees could’ve mustered any type of arm strength in the 4th quarter of that playoff game last season, the Bucs wouldn’t even be defending Super Bowl champions. The Saints have done it by getting up in Brady’s face, and Sean Payton out-coaches Bruce Arians. 3 blowouts in 4 games ain’t an accident. It’s a trend.
But as it stands now, bettors in Vegas aren’t buying that narrative. The Saints are 11-point underdogs going into the game Sunday night. That’s sacrificial lamb odds. That’s telling viewers they’d be more entertained watching a Christmas movie type odds.
You can’t blame them. At one-point last week, Taysum Hill dropped back to pass on 3rd down. As usual, the right side of the offensive imploded and cleared a path for oncoming rushers. Taysum used those legs of his, maneuvered out of the pocket, and threw a strike across the middle to Tre’Quan Smith. The result: First down! Move them chains! And at that point, you were like, “This mofo can really take us there.” But then you looked up at the scoreboard. It was 13-6. In the 3rd quarter. And they were playing the Jets.
Clearly this season isn’t going to end well. But they can at least entertain us over the holidays with a playoff run. And hopefully that starts Sunday night against the Bucs.
Speaking of unhappy endings, have you been paying attention to the Pelicans? Things are not going too well either. In 2 years, GM David Griffin has run through 2 head coaches, and wasted most of the pics the Pelicans got in the Anthony Davis trade. Earlier this season, he also almost got in an actual fight with ex-head coach Alvin Gentry. Griffin’s one claim to fame has been doing what any cognizant human would’ve done. And that is take Zion Willamson with the number 1 pick in the 2019 draft. All he’s done since then is mismanage Zion into disgruntledness.
Typically, it takes a star player 4 or 5 disappointing seasons to realize they want nothing to do with the Pelicans. Zion in his astuteness has apparently come to that conclusion in 2 and a half. Yes, clearly, he has weight problems. It’s also clear, though, that there’s been little consistency or leadership around him.
But now, word around the rim is that Griffin finally has the answer. With the season on the brink, he’s rumored to be orchestrating a season saving trade that’ll transform the last place Pelicans into a play-in/playoff team. In exchange for this transformational talent or talents, Griffin is supposedly offering up Jaxson Hayes. Yes, that is The Jaxson Hayes of 15 minutes, 7.2 points, and 4 rebounds per game. One can only wonder what type of odds Vegas has on that actually happening. Maybe they can recommend a Christmas movie.