The New Orleans Saints had more problems to deal with than any team in the National Football League leading up to the opening of the regular season.
Hurricane Ida ravaged the New Orleans area and made playing their final preseason game scheduled at home against the Arizona Cardinals unwise to play. So, they didn’t. The storm also forced the Saints to give up their home opener and play rather on a neutral field, which was the Jaguars home in Jacksonville.
This was also the first season after nearly two decades of glorious play at quarterback from Drew Brees that the Saints would need to turn to a new signal caller. Their choice was one time Buccaneer Jameis Winston, who was as inconsistent at his initial pro stop in Florida as a jalopy struggling to start on a cold morning.
What else could go wrong?
How about this, have that opening game be against the highly regarded Green Bay Packers and the reigning league Most Valuable Player, Aaron Rodgers. Even before the site switch was announced, the Saints were going to be underdogs for their encounter with the defending NFC North Division champions.
Once the game switched to a neutral site, the Packers favorite role on the spread jumped two points.
What else could go wrong for the Saints?
Once the game started, the team that missed their final preseason game and had their opening contest shifted to a neutral site ran up and down the field and through the beleaguered Packers. By game end, the Saints challenges were overcome in grand style as they hammered the Packers on the field and their dominance was reflected on the scoreboard; Saints 38, Packers 3.
The domination was complete, New Orleans out rushed the Packers 171 yards to 43 while the Winston led offense didn’t suffer a turnover and Aaron Rodgers surrendered two interceptions and the Packers also lost a fumble.
That was then, now what?
Can you imagine the motivation for the Saints as they faced their first game without Brees and with all the problems they faced in the face of their community being ravaged by Hurricane Ida?
What that did provide the Saints was a perfect storm of motivation that led to their one sided win over the talented Packers. This week, the Saints are back on the road to face an AFC South Division rival, the Carolina Panthers. This time, the Saints are favored on the road as the Panthers look for their second straight win, they downed the New York Jets in their opener.
From a birds eye view, one would figure that while both teams got victories on opening day, the Saints upset romp victory over the Packers was much more impressive than the Panthers narrow win over the Jets.
Now, don’t you think that is how the Saints see it?
Imagine how motivated they were after all the problems they confronted getting their home opener rescheduled to the road and having to face Rodgers and his Packers with their new quarterback.
That motivation led to a one-sided victory.
Meanwhile, the Panthers win and cover over the Jets was not gained while the motivational factors favored Carolina. In other words, the Saints took advantage of a good motivational spot and the Panthers overcame a tough challenge at home while also playing their first game with a new quarterback, Sam Darnold.
Few things are more debilitating to the performance of a team than having a perceived easier game following a big win that was greatly influenced by last week’s motivational factors.
Qoxhi Picks: Carolina Panthers (+3½) over New Orleans Saints