How did you become a Saints fan?
In 2007 I went to the States for the first time and stayed with some friends in Baton Rouge, so I got exposed to the Saints there. Admittedly I didn’t quite get swept up in the Drew Brees, Reggie Bush enthusiasm at the time, but a few years later when I went from “aware of” the NFL to actually being a fan, I went straight for the Saints.
Our teams don’t meet all that often. How do UK Saints fans tend to feel about the Ravens?
Not that often, but (I think) four consecutive preseasons! So there’s that. I don’t think Saints fans have any strong feeling for or against the Ravens. I know you gave us our first loss in the Superdome after Katrina (so thanks for that), and I know the regular season has been something like 5-1 in the Ravens favour. UK fans specifically? I think UK Saints fans – like a lot of UK fans in general – were becoming more and more aware and into NFL around the time of the ’13 Super Bowl, so seeing Joe Flacco with the Lombardi (or Jacoby Jones’ return TD) is probably quite a formative memory.
What games between our teams stick out in your memory?
I remember the last regular season meeting fairly well, Week 12 of 2014? Admittedly, that’s partially because of one of those bittersweet fantasy football memories of seeing Justin Forsett driving me to wins in two leagues while watching him make our run D look like soft cheese. Given we’d come into 2014 full of hope about getting back in the playoffs with a surprisingly good defense (believe or not, our 2013 D was decent!), coming out of that game at 4-7 and looking hopeless was pretty bleak.
How has your pre-season been so far and how do you feel about the season ahead?
Preseason’s been fairly positive. A few of our rookies – CB Marshon Lattimore, LB Alex Anzalone and – especially – RB Alvin Kamara have looked exciting. As for the season – it feels like we go one step forward, one step back. Our roster looks thin (especially defense!) and we’re heading for a third consecutive year of leading the league in dead money, and it shows. I feel like the secondary might surprise a few people, and if it does perform that’s sort of the chink of light that might break three successive 7-9 seasons.
What will you be looking for in this game?
It’s the fatalist in me, but sort of looking at draft busts on the roster bubble. A couple of our 2015 picks – first-round LB Stephone Anthony and third-round QB Garrett Grayson – have been bad enough through two years they may get cut. Anthony can’t read plays and ends up out of position so much, Grayson…can’t really do anything! So much for him being Drew Brees’ successor. I’m looking to see how well they do, whether Anthony makes backup LB or if Grayson shows enough promise for them to stash him away on the practice squad for one more year.
Nick Dunkeyson is Senior NFL Writer at The Inside Zone
Photo: Phil Roeder