NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - And so now with five games left in it, what do you want to see over the remainder of the Saints' schedule besides its merciful conclusion on Jan. 3?
Mathematically, the Saints are still alive in the playoff hunt. Realistically, those far-fetched dreams expired yesterday. But until both coincide, it would be unprofessional and irresponsible to give you, themselves, and their opponents less than their best lineup and effort.
But over these last five games, no matter what the outcome, there are things to watch for - for the future if not the present. Who plays hurt? Who plays hard? Who hardly plays? Who wants to play as little as possible to avoid injury and the holidays or the off-season re-habbing?
Who wants to see Garrett Grayson, at least a little? Yesterday, he was an inactive number three quarterback behind Matt Flynn, signed two weeks ago.
Who wants to see which Saints assistant coaches spend the most time schmoozing before the game with those from the opponent? Both Carolina coordinators Mike Shula and Sean McDermott figure to be head-coaching candidates elsewhere this off-season. With the uncertainty existing here, a little networking that could lead to something elsewhere might be well-advised.
Who wants to see the last unbeaten team in the NFL this Sunday when the 11 and 0 panthers could clinch the NFC South three-quarters of the way through the season? Who wants to see whether Cam Newton has to settle for the "under" in the over/under line of post-touchdown celebratory "dabs?" Remember, last year his Superman act incited a brawl here in the Panthers' embarrassing 41-10 win.
"A little dab will do ya" as a Saint fan on Sunday. How little will the Saints defense allow and/or take offense to? At this point in this train-wreck of a season, the police might advise you to avert your eyes and turn your attention elsewhere. "Nothing to see here."
But there is a lot, in fact, if you still know what to look for and care to see it. No matter how unpleasant it may be to do so.