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?
- After 10 wins in a row, I can barely remember what it feels like to write a postgame piece after a loss. But last night, the New Orleans Saints just got flat out beat by a team that played inspired football, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Cowboys’ defense made life miserable for Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense like no other team has been able to, so far this season. On Thursday night football, New Orleans recorded a grand total of 10 points, a whole 27.2 points lower than their season average. the Saints still only lost 13-10, but they were unrecognizable, especially on offense.
- Thus, instead of clinching a playoff berth and staying ahead of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC race, the Saints are left having to pick themselves up, do some soul searching and figure out how to get better. Last night, the Cowboys had their way with the offensive line, wide receivers dropped balls and Drew Brees looked nothing like the immortal quarterback he has been throughout the year.
- This loss could be a blessing in disguise however, as losing always prompts needed adjustments that are easier to overlook after a win. This is now the time for Sean Payton, Drew Brees and company to look within, self-scout and find a way to make their team better ahead of another tough road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 9.
Five Numbers...That Don’t Lie
- 36: Minutes and 53 seconds. That was the time of possession for the Dallas Cowboys in last night’s game, while the Saints held the ball for only 23:07 minutes. The Saints came into the game leading the league in time of possession, with over 33 minutes a game. One of Dallas’ obvious goals was to keep Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense on the sideline, and the Cowboys were able to accomplish that to near perfection. Dallas held the ball for over 13 minutes more than New Orleans, aided by a 50% rate on third down (7 of 14). By doing so, they managed to completely take the Saints’ offense out of its normal rhythm.
- 27: The third down percentage for the Saints’ last night. Even though Drew Brees was only sacked twice, New Orleans’ signal caller was constantly under pressure, which led to a slew of errant passes. The Saints ended the night 3-of-11 on third down, their second-lowest third down percentage of the season (25% in a week two win against Cleveland). This explains why the offense seemed to be stuck in the mud all game long.
- 2: The number of consecutive games in which Drew Brees has now thrown an interception this season. After being picked off for the first time of the season by safety Harrison Smith in week 8 against the Minnesota Vikings, Brees had three more interception-free games (Rams, Bengals, Eagles) before getting intercepted by Damontae Kazee of the Falcons last week and Jourdan Lewis of the Cowboys last night. While the interception against Atlanta was the result of a blatant (yet not called) pass interference, the picks against the Vikings and the Cowboys were both the result of Brees throwing the ball hurriedly while being pressured. One would think that a veteran like Brees would know when to swallow the ball and take a sack rather than put it in harm’s way. Can we get back to Superman Brees? Please?
- 0: The number of points that the Saints scored in the first half of last night’s game. The last time that the Saints had been shutout in the first half of a game was, eerily, at Dallas on September 28, 2014 when the Cowboys dismantled a mediocre Saints team 38-17. Dallas has now also stopped to two longest winning streaks in Saints history, the first one in 2009 when New Orleans was 13-0, and last night. Something about these Cowboys defeating good Saints teams. Hey, let’s all hope it’s a good omen and things end up like they did in 2009 for the Saints.
- 0: The number of points allowed by the Saints’ defense to the Cowboys in the second half last night. There was one Saints unit that did not play a completely putrid game, and that was the defense. New Orleans sacked Dak Prescott seven times and forced two turnovers, the second a beautiful sack-fumble by Cam Jordan, which gave the Saints’ offense a chance to steal a game the Saints truly had not deserved to be in. Too bad the offense didn’t receive the defense’s invitation to the party.
Keep Your Enemies Closer
- Despite their loss last night, the Saints (10-2) are still comfortably ahead in the NFC South. The Carolina Panthers (6-5) travel to Tampa to face New Orleans’ next opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7). The Saints will undoubtedly be rooting for the Bucs, as the Panthers still look like New Orleans’ toughest challenger for the division crown.
- The Atlanta Falcons (4-7) welcome the Baltimore Ravens (6-5) who are in a fight for their playoffs lives in the AFC. It goes without saying that Saints fans will be big Ravens fans, as seeing the Falcons lose never gets old, even with Atlanta having been mathematically eliminated from contention for the NFC South.
If the Playoffs Started Today
- The biggest hit that the Saints took last night was in the NFC standings: because they have the tiebreaker over the Los Angeles Rams (10-1) based on their head-to-head win, the Saints have to finish the season at least with the same record as the Rams to claim the number one seed in the NFC. Now with one more loss than Los Angeles, the margin of error has gotten extremely thin for New Orleans. The Rams play a fairly favorable schedule the rest of the way, with games at Detroit, at Chicago, vs. Philadelphia, then at Arizona and vs. San Francisco to finish the season. Should the Rams run the table, they’ll get home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and the route to the Super Bowl in the NFC will run through Los Angeles.
- Sitting at number two in the NFC, the Saints still own one of the first-round byes in the NFC playoffs. However, don’t look now, but the Chicago Bears (8-3) could find themselves just one game behind the Saints for that very number two seed after their game Sunday at the underachieving New York Giants (3-8). New Orleans has to use this loss as fuel to get better and finish strong, otherwise they could see all the great work they’ve accomplished so far go down the drain.
- According to fivethirtyeight.com, the Saints still have the highest ELO rating in the league (although that could change after Sunday games). New Orleans still has a 99% chance of making the playoffs, and a 97% chance of winning the NFC South. The first-round bye chances went down from 90 to 84% and the chances of winning the Super Bowl took the biggest hit, from 27 to 22%.
- New Orleans gets a mini-bye week and a chance to lick its wounds before traveling to Tampa Bay on December 9 to face the Buccaneers. All of the Saints’ goals are still in front of them: A win against the Bucs would clinch a playoff berth for New Orleans and should the Panthers lose any one of their next two games, a victory in Tampa would also mean a division crown. Should that happen, it would be the second division title in a row for the Saints, a first in franchise history.
Hey, how come you’re still here reading? Get on with your day already and see you next week!
After last night, how do you feel about the Saints this morning?
This poll is closed
I feel good, a second loss in 12 games does not a season ruin
Super nervous for the rest of the year, hiding under the bed with J-Ricky
Cautiously optimistic. We might have needed a reality check
I feel like they’re now going to be on a mission! Let’s Geauuuuuuux!!!
I’ve been compulsively eating cheeseburgers since last night