If you weren't already a fan of the New Orleans Saints, then chances are pretty good that you'd never even know they were playing a NFC Divisional Round Playoff game this Sunday, particularly if you watch the National Media's current coverage of the ongoing 2018-19 NFL post-season.
A fair share of analysts and observers / "talking heads" in recent days at places such as ESPN the NFL Network, haven' been exactly shy in openly GUSHING over the Saints' opponent this Sunday, the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles and their current starting QB, 7th year veteran Nick Foles.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 9, 2019
And while certainly everyone is entitled to their own opinions, the lack of respect (at least from the perspective of "outside looking in") that's being projected by those same media members is one that Saints fans think is unwarranted ― given that their team went (13-3) overall, won their 2nd consecutive NFC South Division Championship, and earned the #1 Playoff seed in the NFC.
However, the players themselves aren't even remotely worried about what's being said and done outside of their proverbial 'sphere' of influence, and are content to let their play on the field this upcoming Sunday speak for itself.
It's a point that was driven home the other day by Saints 11th year WR Ted Ginn, Jr.; who told New Orleans Advocate beat writer Rod Walker that the team is VERY confident about their chances to win on Sunday.
"It's very high," Ginn said. "Why wouldn't it be? When you're in this deal, confidence is half of the battle. When you have a locker room as confident as ours on all sides with offense, defense and special teams, it's just easy to just go out there and play."
A big part of the reason why those analysts might not have much faith in the Saints likely stems from how they played towards the end of the Regular Season, as New Orleans went (3-2) in their final 5 games; with losses to Dallas (Week #13) and Carolina (Week #17).
But to be completely fair to the Saints, they played the last few several Regular Season games with a "patchwork" offensive line due to injuries (specifically a torn pectoral muscle suffered by starting left tackle Terron Armstead), were basically playing with only one true veteran wide receiver (Michael Thomas) while Ginn was on injured reserve; and essentially rested many of their starters on offense in the final game.
However, the Saints despite that still won 13 out of their last 14 games and managed to earn the #1 overall seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the post-season.
It's exactly the reason why Saints head coach Sean Payton doesn't seem all that worried about his team being ready to face an Eagles squad that got hot at the right time and rallied from a (4-6) record to just make the Playoffs; and that will be looking to successfully defend their NFL title from last year.
"Hopefully we are further down the road and more experienced relative to the games we've played since then," Payton said.
"I think we are looking forward to having a good week of practice, studying the film and playing close attention to all the things that have taken place between that last game and now. That's the great thing about this tournament. You get to play and advance and certainly understand the sense of urgency."
Payton's sentiment was echoed by 6th year veteran linebacker A.J. Klein.
"We know that they have playmakers on this team, and they are the defending Super Bowl champs," Klein said. "They have been in this situation before so they know how to win. We are not expecting them to be the same team because they are not. They are playing really good football right now and we will be prepared to get their best shot and obviously we will give them ours."
Saints fans will do well to remember one thing, which is that regardless of the views and opinions of those within the National Media, they are meaningless in the "bigger picture".
That bigger picture is one in which the Saints go about their own business and block out ALL of the distractions from the outside, and remain squarely focused on their #1 goal, which is getting one more Super Bowl ring for their future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees ― and before he decides to hang up his cleats for the final time.
And the easiest way for them to pull that off is by simply letting their play on the field do all of the talking FOR them, beginning this Sunday.
If that happens, it will be very interesting to see what the "talking heads" have to say about the Saints NEXT week....