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.
Café au lait (/ˌkæfeɪ oʊ ˈleɪ, kæˌfeɪ, kə-/; French: [kafe olɛ]; 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.
What Just Happened?
- Having clinched the number one seed in the NFC, the New Orleans Saints (13-3) had nothing to play for yesterday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome when they welcomed the Kyle Allen-led Carolina Panthers (7-9). Head coach Sean Payton smartly sat quarterback Drew Brees, running back Alvin Kamara and three starters on the offensive line. Other key players on both sides of the ball saw limited action.
- The Panthers on the other hand played loose, as you would expect a team with nothing to lose. Newly-minted starter Kyle Allen torched a Saints’ defense that played half-heartedly, and led Carolina to a 33-14 win. With the loss, the Saints match their franchise-high in regular season wins with 13; the team will now look to get healthy before beginning the playoffs in the divisional round on Sunday January 13.
- Teddy Bridgewater played decent football in his first NFL start since 2015: The Saints’ backup quarterback went 14-for-22 for 118 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. As expected in a meaningless contest, Sean Payton called a pretty vanilla offense, and with backups on the offensive line, Bridgewater’s performance is hard to evaluate. It is still likely that he will command a lot of interest from quarterback-needy teams this offseason.
Five Numbers...That Don’t Lie
- 1,405: The single season record for receiving yards in Saints franchise history. Michael Thomas stayed in the game into the fourth quarter in order to break the 1,399 mark that had been established by Joe Horn in 2004. Horn was in attendance yesterday, sporting a Number 13 jersey. Although I was not exactly a fan of Thomas chasing that record so hungrily at the risk of injury in yesterday’s game, the Saints’ third-year receiver had a season for the ages: 125 receptions on 147 targets (85.0% catch rate), nine touchdowns and an infectious display of toughness and competitiveness on the field. He is the cornerstone of the Saints’ receiving corps and at only 25, he will be for years to come.
- 489: Drew Brees’ passing attempts during the 2018 regular season, 25 attempts less than the previous low in his Saints career (514 in 2009). This number is remarkable because for seven straight years from 2010 to 2016, Brees had never attempted less than 627 passes. These were obviously years when the Saints’ defense was largely terrible and New Orleans lived and mostly died by the pass. Since last season, the Saints simply don’t need Brees to be “Breesus” anymore to win.
- 74.4: Last year, Drew Brees surpassed Sam Bradford’s 71.6% completion percentage record set in 2016, with a then-incredible 72% rate. This season, Brees broke his own NFL record, completing 74.4% of his attempts. When you consider the number of passes that were dropped by the inexperienced receiving unit this season, Brees’ completion percentage could have been even higher.
- 26: The number of rushing touchdowns by the Saints in the 2018 regular season, first in the NFL (the Rams are second with 23, and the Ravens third with 19). With Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram and Taysom Hill, New Orleans has used the running game with incredible efficiency this year, truly keeping defenses off-balance.
- 5: The number of division wins for the Saints since Sean Payton came to New Orleans in 2006. The Saints have won the NFC South in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2017 and 2018. Given that Payton did not coach at all in 2012, he has effectively been on New Orleans’ sidelines for 12 years and won the division nearly half that time. That is an unbelievable rate of success.
Beignets and Café au Lait Awards
- Fresh Beignets with Hot Coffee: The Saints’ fans in the Superdome. I was incredibly proud of those who were still loud in the Dome despite watching that snooze-fest of a game yesterday. Have some beignets, Who Dat Nation!
- Stale Beignets with Day-old Coffee: The Starting Defense. I understand that yesterday’s game meant nothing, but as every single person who has ever taken part in a sporting event on the field would tell you, the best way to get hurt is to play at half speed. Against the Panthers the Saints’ starting defense was so obviously playing not to get hurt, several of the players actually got hurt. Luckily, none of the injuries appeared to be too serious.
Voodoo Stat of the Day
- In 2009, the Saints went 13-3 in the regular season. Their three losses were to the Cowboys, the Buccaneers and the Panthers. They were the number one seed in the NFC and won Super Bowl XLIV.
- In 2018, the Saints went 13-3 in the regular season. Their three losses were to the Cowboys, the Buccaneers and the Panthers. They are the number one seed in the NFC and... will they win Super Bowl LIII? Marie Laveau seems to think so.
The NFC Playoffs Are Set
- With a 13-3 record, the Saints have wrapped up the number one seed in the NFC playoffs and will be sipping some sweet tea while watching the Wild Card round from their couches.
- The Los Angeles Rams (13-3) are the number two seed and they too have a first-round bye.
- The Chicago Bears (12-4) eliminated the Minnesota Vikings and locked up the number three seed. With the Bears win, the Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) sneaked into the playoffs as the sixth seed, after defeating the hapless Washington Redskins. The Dallas Cowboys (10-6) and the Seattle Seahawks (10-6) both won to lock up the fourth and fifth seed respectively.
Below are the final 2018 NFC playoffs standings:
NFC Wild Card Weekend
- Saturday, January 5: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (4:35 PM ET on ESPN/ABC)
- Sunday, January 6: Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (8:15 PM ET on FOX):
- Sunday, January 13 (4:40 PM ET on FOX): The Saints will play either the Cowboys, Seahawks or Eagles in the divisional round. Earlier this season, New Orleans pummeled the Eagles 48-7 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Two games later in week 13, the Saints were stymied 13-10 by the Cowboys in Dallas. New Orleans has not faced Seattle this season.
Super Bowl Odds
According to fivethirthyeight.com, despite a -61 on their ELO rating after the loss to the Panthers, the Saints still have the highest odds to win the Super Bowl at 21%, just 2% ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Patriots are third (14%) and the Rams (13%) round out the teams with a double-digit percentage chance of winning the Big Game.
In a remarkable year, the Saints led the NFL in wins (13) and point differential (+151) among a plethora of categories in which New Orleans was at or near the top in the NFL this season. Now the Black and Gold have to finish the right way: and that’s by winning the franchise’s second Lombardi trophy. If you ask me, I like their chances.
Hey, how come you’re still here? Get on with your day already and Happy New Year!
Who would you prefer the Saints to face in the divisional round of the playoffs?
This poll is closed
The Cowboys! Saints have unfinished business with those loud mouths.
The Eagles and their injured roster. Plus Saints crushed them already
The Seahawks: the Legion of Boom is but an old legend now
Let me eat my burger breakfast first, then I’ll tell you