After a surprise season in which the Saints went from one of the NFL's most disappointing teams to one of its very best, the opening kickoff for their first Playoff game at home in 6 years is now just a little over 24 hours away.
But for a large majority of Saints fans, there is something on a much larger scale to be excited about besides tomorrow's contest; which is that in a span of only a few months time, the Saints have morphed from a sub-par losing team filled with a host of young and inexperienced players to a legitimate World Championship contender, seemingly "overnight".
That's what having one of the greatest drafts in modern NFL history (the Saints 2017 NFL Draft Class) will do for your team, and the very possibility of having BOTH the NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year Award winners (running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon Lattimore) serves as a testament to that fact.
As a result, New Orleans is "poised" to make a deep Playoff run, and many analysts and experts from a wide variety of sources that cover the NFL even feel that the Saints could make a Super Bowl appearance next month in Minneapolis.
There are some however, who aren't quite as confident that the Saints can make it all the way to Minneapolis; and that includes NFL Network’s Cynthia Frelund — who knows more than anyone as an analytics expert, about the probabilities associated with each one of the current 12 Playoff teams' chances of winning "The Big One".
In her role as the first-ever analytics expert for NFL Media Group, Frelund brings her expertise in numbers and analytics data, to the common NFL fan. She offers analytics insights on NFL Network’s GameDay Morning and NFL Fantasy Live, and contributes every year to Super Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine and NFL Draft coverage.
Frelund joined NFL Media back in August of 2016 from ESPN, where she served as a Predictive Analytics Analyst on SportsCenter for two years. Prior to joining ESPN, Cynthia was manager of Business Development for Disney/ABC in Los Angeles, analyst for the NFL's CFO, and senior analyst for Fusion Finance.
Frelund's expertise allows her to break down complicated data and statistics, recognize patterns and trends, and then translate it in a way that is easy for fans to digest and understand.
Additionally, it's also made her the "go-to" person for figuring the best match-ups and "who to start" among Fantasy Football enthusiasts.
Frelund's "Game Theory" projection model out this week, calculates each playoff team's chances of winning Super Bowl LII. In her latest set of figures, the Saints were given a 12.9 percent chance to win the Super Bowl, which would’ve been hard for anyone to believe after New Orleans began the 2017 season with an 0-2 record.
Some Saints fans may view those numbers as disappointing, and there's also a few Saints fans who will feel that Frelund and the NFL Network's projection are actually "lowballing" New Orleans' chances.
(Click the "play" button on the video in the Tweet right below)
— cynthia frelund (@cfrelund) January 4, 2018
Whether that is the case or not, there's no reason to suspect that Frelund (an Okemos, Michigan native) has any reason whatsoever to give the Saints a lower chance than the teams she has ranked ahead of them; who are the Patriots (ranked #1 with a 48.6% chance), Vikings (38.4%), Steelers (31.6%), Eagles (26.5%), and the Rams (14.1%).
Using her formula, the Saints are where they're supposed to be — since the Saints lost to 3 of those teams (Vikings, Patriots, and Rams), and also because even though they didn't face each other in the regular season, the (13-3) #1 NFC Playoff seed Philadelphia Eagles had a better record than (11-5) #4 NFC Playoff seed New Orleans.
But here's the biggest takeaway if you're a Saints fan, which is that while 12.9% might seem like a "long shot", it's 100% likely that NONE of the other 11 Playoff teams want to play New Orleans right now.
Although the Saints were only (3-3) in their final 6 games, the NFL Playoffs are an entirely different matter; and there's no reason to suspect that this Saints team will give anything less that the effort they gave all year long that made them a Top 5 rated team for a large portion of the 2017 NFL regular season.
That of course will start tomorrow at the Superdome against the NFC Wild Card and visiting NFC South division rival Carolina Panthers, and hopefully will continue on each weekend after that.
For New Orleans, the goal is simple: win 3 straight, and you get a shot to win it all.
Unfortunately, Miss Frelund's calculations say there's only a 12.9 % chance of it happening.
But there is one thing that every football fan in January of 2018 can "take to the bank":