January 14, 2007

Wilkerson: On To Chicago

Yes, it would have been great for the fans and the city if the Saints were hosting the NFC championship game, but as Sean Payton would say “it is what it is.”

And in this case, it is a trip to Chicago for the right to play in the Super Bowl. Now trust me on this one folks, this is best for the Saints. Playing before the home crowd is a wonderful thing but it also adds a tremendous amount of pressure. When you go on the road and in particular when this team plays on the road, the whole mindset is different. It’s all about football, period.

There is no worrying about tickets, getting family members into hotels or any of that kind of stuff. It will be only about playing a football game. This will be a normal week for the Saints. They’ll look at the tapes on Monday, have Tuesday off and then have normal practices on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday will be just like any other Friday during the season with a short practice and then the players will have the afternoon off. Then a walkthrough on Saturday morning, get on the plane and head to Chicago. All very, very normal.
Just what they need.

Just the right kind of scenario that will give them a better chance of winning. Folks, this is a very winnable game and I would not bet against the Saints in it, especially since they are going on the road.
Focus will always be one of the biggest keys to victory and when you travel, you can’t help but focus because there’s nothing else to do.

They won’t have to wake up on Sunday and wait all day for a night game. They will have a normal Sunday morning of breakfast, meetings and then a bus ride to the stadium. Kickoff is at 2pmCST instead of noon, but that is no big deal. If anything, it just gives them a little more rest and not restlessness of waiting all day in a hotel room to play a game. So I truly believe that this is the best thing that could have happened when it comes to getting the win and a trip to Miami.

As far as the game itself, and the matchup with the Bears, well the nation saw on Saturday night what we have known for a long time around here. Deuce is tank and if the Saints have any sense at all, which they do, they will ride that tank all day long. The forecast in Chicago calls for sunny skies, probably around 34 degrees. Perfect football weather, weather that will allow the Saints to throw it when they want to, after they have set up the pass with a heavy dose of Deuce.

We saw the Saints beat the Eagles on a night when they did not have their A game. On a night when they had post season jitters, a night that they dropped passes and dropped potential interceptions, a night when Drew Brees was not at his best. But, a night when they made the plays they had to make in order to win. And oh yeah, how ‘bout that defense that rose up to the challenge in glorious fashion.

If you have paid attention, and I know you have, you know that when this team plays like that, they almost never play the same way the next week. We always used to joke about Jim Haslett when he would say, “they had some things to clean up.” We joked because they never would actually clean up the mistakes.
This team does clean it up, and in a way I am actually glad they made some of those mistakes Saturday night, simply because history shows that they don’t do those things two weeks in a row.

The Saints will go to Chicago as a confident team with a good game plan in hand, a team with enough good players to get it done.

More than anything they will go to Chicago as a team. This group of players play for each other and are without a doubt the best team this city has ever seen.

The next few weeks could bring things to this city that will be talked about for eternity, but as of right now the win on Saturday is the single biggest thing that has ever happened to this city. Will they top it?
I’ll say it again... I wouldn’t bet against em.

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