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Beignets and Café au Lait: Saints at Ravens Edition

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Brees has beaten them all, the Saints are the number two seed in the NFC and Minnesota is next. No miracles allowed this time, please?

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning and welcome to the first installment of “Beignets and Café au Lait”

First of all, let’s understand what the title of this new column actually means:

Beignets (English: /bɛnˈjeɪ/; French: [bɛɲɛ], ben-YAY literally bump) are distinctly New Orleans, a delicacy intimately connected to the city’s rich French heritage. Best enjoyed lightly powdered with sugar.

Café au lait (/ˌkæfeɪ oʊ ˈleɪ, kæˌfeɪ, kə-/; French: [kafe o lɛ]; French for “coffee with milk”) is a delicious New Orleans way to start your day.

This is your “After-Saints-Game” breakfast, where we talk about the state of the Black and Gold, we debate the goings-on in the NFC South, and paint the playoff picture in the NFC up to this point of the season. So, sit back, take a bite and a sip while your brain slowly wakes up, and let’s catch up on some football.

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What Just Happened?

  • After beating the Ravens 24-23 yesterday in Baltimore, the Saints (5-1) have now won five games in a row, which makes us forget that dreadful 48-40 home loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in week one. Actually no, that loss still drives me nuts! But that is water under the bridge and the future looks bright for this 2018 New Orleans squad.
  • In the process of defeating the Ravens, Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes and with 501 career touchdown passes, he became only the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 500 touchdown passes, joining Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.
  • With the victory yesterday, Brees also became the third quarterback in NFL history to beat all 32 NFL teams, along with Brett Favre and Peyton Manning

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Five Numbers...That Don’t Lie

  • 220: The number of passing attempts by Drew Brees through six games in 2018. What is remarkable is that Brees also had exactly 220 passing attempts through six games in 2017 as well, en route to a total of 536 attempts. That is significant because 2017 was the first year since 2009 (514 attempts) that Brees had thrown less than 600 passes in an entire regular season. We all remember that both 2009 and 2017 were very successful years for New Orleans, as head coach Sean Payton supplemented the passing game with a more prominent and efficient running game, which allowed the Saints offense to be a bit less Brees-centric and even more potent.
  • 119.8: Drew Brees’ passer rating on November 7, 2004, when his Chargers defeated the Saints 43-17 in San Diego. Two years later, Brees would join the Saints and rewrite Louisiana sports history. However, that win almost 14 years ago was crucial in allowing him to complete yesterday’s amazing feat of having defeated all 32 NFL teams.
  • 87.5: That is the percentage of success for the Saints on fourth down in 2018. That, ladies and gentlemen, is preposterous! As in ridiculously good. The Saints are 7 of 8 on fourth down this season and yesterday they were 4 of 5 against the Ravens. This of course denotes the aggressiveness of Sean Payton this season, yet the head coach seems to have even ramped it up this year. I am not complaining.
  • 5: The number of takeaways by the Saints defense so far this season (2 interceptions, 3 fumbles recoveries). Not good! Although the defense has improved drastically from the unit that was decimated by Ryan Fitzpatrick in week one, the one thing that is still sorely missing in Dennis Allen’s group is takeaways. But you know what they say: turnovers come in bunches, so let’s hope that will start in Minneapolis on Sunday night for the Saints defense.
  • 0: The number of interceptions thrown by Brees through six games this season. For perspective, this is the first time in Brees’ Saints career that he has not thrown a single pick through the first six games of the season. His previous low at the same junction was four interceptions, accomplished both last season and in 2015.

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Keep Your Enemies Closer

Every team in the NFC South is separated by one game. At 5-1, the Saints lead the division. The 4-2 Panthers have been living dangerously, needing a 63-yard field goal to beat the lowly New York Giants 33-31 in week 5, and coming back from 17-0 down to edge the slumping defending champion Philadelphia Eagles 21-17 yesterday. Carolina figures to be the Saints primary contender for the division crown, but neither the Buccaneers (3-3) nor the Falcons (2-4) are completely out of the picture. What a surprise! the NFC South is going to be hotly contested yet again.

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If the Playoffs Started Today

The Saints would have a first round bye, as they are second in the NFC behind the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams (7-0). The Washington Redskins, the team that New Orleans dismantled 43-19 on Monday Night Football two weeks ago, are third in the conference with a 4-2 record and lead the NFC East. They are followed by the Minnesota Vikings (4-2-1) leader of the NFC North and the Saints’ next opponent. In fifth place, we find the familiar Carolina Panthers (4-2) and finally the Green Bay Packers (3-2-1) are currently the sixth seed.

Should the playoffs start today, as the second seed in the conference, the Saints would play either the Washington Redskins, the Minnesota Vikings or the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round. But we all know that there are 10 more games to play in this regular season, and we are thankful that the players can’t make these silly predictions that are so much fun for us to play with. One game at a time (if you’re a Saints player reading this)!

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What’s Next?

Next Sunday night, the Saints return to the House of Horrors known as US Bank Stadium in Minnesota. We all know what happened. But just to make sure that we never forget, NBC will show the replay of that accursed play ad nauseam. There will be silly talks of revenge, but as often is the case when trying to sell a game (which is their right and truly, their job), TV programs will miss the mark: what really will be at stake is yet another crucial tiebreaker in the NFC. When the New Orleans Saints clash with the Minnesota Vikings on the evening of October 28, 2018, they will have one thing in mind: making sure that, should both teams make it to the playoffs, the Vikings will be traveling to the Mercedes Benz Superdome this time around.

Hey, how come you’re still here reading? Get on with your day already and see you next week!

Poll

Are the Saints where you expected them to be at this point of the season?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Yes, 5-1 record with 5 wins in a row is awesome
    (38 votes)
  • 3%
    No, I expected Super Bowl of bust, so 6-0
    (7 votes)
  • 36%
    After that loss to the Bucs, I expected the worst. I’m pleasantly surprised
    (82 votes)
  • 41%
    Yes, but the defense still worries me
    (92 votes)
  • 1%
    Let me eat this breakfast burger, then I’ll let you know
    (4 votes)
223 votes total Vote Now