Good morning Y’all
As always, for our novice readers or non-New Orleanians, welcome!
Let’s start with some definitions:
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 heavily powdered with sugar.
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.
What Just Happened?
- Saints fans are a little bit spoiled with the Saints offense, and I am not sure if I can completely blame them. Yesterday in a pivotal game to stay with the Los Angeles Rams (10-1) in the race for the NFC regular season crown, New Orleans (10-1) found enough energy to defeat the Atlanta Falcons (4-7) 31-17 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Yet, a lot of the comments I saw from Saints fans last night lamented the fact that the offense wasn’t its usual deadly-efficient self, leaving quite a few points on the field.
- But guess what? I feel good about the offensive performance last night. Playing their second game in four days and coming off a late game on Sunday, the Saints’ offense was bound to look somewhat sloppy: quarterback Drew Brees threw his second interception of the year (Oh No!!!), was sacked once (Oh My God!!!) and completed only 15 of 22 passes for under 200 yards (No Way!!!). The Saints punted three times. I mean Thomas Morstead actually got on the field to do the job he is getting paid to do.
- So why do I feel good about it? New Orleans’ running game picked up the slack, as The Saints rushed 31 times for 150 yards, and a healthy 4.8 yards-per-rush. Furthermore, head coach Sean Payton can now use this so-so output to further emphasize to the team that performances as flawless as the ones they had displayed in their three games prior to yesterday cannot be taken for granted. Complacency has no place on a team chasing greatness and a championship.
Five Numbers...That Don’t Lie
- 48: The New Orleans Saints’ number of wins in 100 games against the Atlanta Falcons. In a series that started in 1967, New Orleans is now 48-52 all-time against Falcons, playoffs and regular season combined. In the 13 years of the Brees/Payton era, the Saints are 18-8 against the Falcons, ever narrowing the gap in the all-time series, which now stands at just four games.
- 19.1: The average number of points allowed by the Saints’ defense in the team’s last eight games. In their first three games, the Saints gave up an average of 34.3 points per game, and the most points they allowed during their 10-game winning streak is 35 to the potent Los Angeles Rams. News flash: if the defense continues to allow less than 20 points a game, New Orleans may not lose another game this season.
- 13: A lucky number, as this is how many different Saints players have caught a touchdown pass from Drew Brees so far this season, which ties the NFL record in a single season established by Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in 2016. The 13 Saints players are listed below (number of touchdowns in parenthesis):
- Michael Thomas, WR (8)
- Alvin Kamara, RB: (4)
- Tre’Quan Smith, WR (4)
- Benjamin Watson, TE (2)
- Ted Ginn Jr., WR (2)
- Austin Carr, WR (2)
- Mark Ingram, RB (1)
- Keith Kirkwood, WR (1)
- Tommylee Lewis, WR (1)
- Cameron Meredith, WR (1)
- Zach Line, FB (1)
- Dan Arnold, TE (1)
- Josh Hill, TE (1)
- 8: As in Plus-8. This is the Saints’ turnover margin after 11 games this season. New Orleans is tied for the league-low in giveaways with nine this season. What is remarkable is that the Saints, who were minus-three in turnover margin after three games to start the season, have now gone plus-11 in their last eight games. Last night against the Atlanta, New Orleans recorded one interception while forcing five fumbles and recovering three. With Brees’ lone interception of the game, New Orleans was plus-three in the turnover margin. That is what you call playing winning football.
- 1.6: The yards-per-rush average allowed by the Saints’ defense against the Falcons last night. The Falcons rushed 16 times for 26 yards, with quarterback Matt Ryan leading Atlanta with 16 yards (shocked face emoji). Were we just talking about winning football? New Orleans came into last night’s game ranked fifth in yards-per-rush allowed in the NFL, behind Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas and Houston. Needless to say, that Dennis Allen’s unit should see its ranking further improve in that category when week 12 is in the books.
Keep Your Enemies Closer
- With the Saints playing the Dirty Birds on Thursday night, they took care of an immediate foe in the Falcons. Atlanta (4-7) is now six games off New Orleans’ pace and on the brink of elimination from contention in the playoffs.
- The Carolina Panthers (6-4) who still have two games to play against New Orleans are facing a tough challenge in the Seattle Seahawks (5-5) Sunday at 12 PM ET in Charlotte. Losers of two games in a row, the Panthers can ill afford to lose this game if they want to stay ahead in the fight for a wild card spot with the Seahawks and a host of other NFC teams.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) will try to salvage paper-thin playoffs hopes when they welcome the San Francisco 49ers (2-8) at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Jameis Winston has been announced as the new-old quarterback of the Bucs for Sunday’s contest.
If the Playoffs Started Today
- By virtue of their head-to-head win over the Rams in week 9, the Saints (10-1) regain the number one spot in the NFC. The second-seeded Rams (10-1) are on their bye week, and next play at Detroit on Sunday, December 2. For New Orleans to secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, the Saints would have to finish the regular season, at worst, with the same record as the Rams. We will definitely be scoreboard watching.
- At 8-3, the Chicago Bears have solidified their hold on the third seed in the conference, they also lead the NFC North by 2.5 games over the Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1). The surging Dallas Cowboys (6-5), the Saints’ next week opponents, now occupy the fourth seed, while Carolina is still in the fifth spot, although that may change after their game against Seattle on Sunday. Rounding up the current playoffs team are the aforementioned Vikings.
- By the advanced metrics from fivethirtyeight.com, the Saints still have over 99% chance of making the playoffs, and a 95% (+1% from last week) chance of winning the division. Their chance of a first-round bye is now at 95% (+6% from last week) and their chance of winning the Super Bowl went from 25% to 26%. Championship!
- Here are the numbers for the NFC South:
- The Saints are back on prime-time next Thursday in Jerry World, as they’ll be facing off with the streaking Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football. Although Thursday games usually heavily favor the home team, the full week off will be a boon for the Black and Gold. Dallas’ defense has been stingy in their three-game winning streak, a stretch in which they have allowed an average of 20.7 points-per-game. On the other side of the ball, Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott seems to have regained their 2016 form. This will be another challenge for the Saints in this incredible 2018 season. Something tells me that Sean Payton, who relishes playing in Dallas, will have his team ready for that showdown.
Hey, how come you’re still here reading? Get on with your day already and see you next week!
After 11 games, Who is Your Saints Defensive MVP?
This poll is closed
Cam Jordan, who leads the pack with 8.0 sacks!
Sheldon "Shimmy" Rankins, who now has 7.0 sacks!
Demario Davis, leading a fierce run-stopping unit
Dennis Allen, who has steadily improved this whole unit!
The quadruple bacon cheddar burger is the real MVP