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?
Yesterday the New Orleans Saints won another game in which they scored 13 points or less, in this crazy 2019 NFL season. After beating the Dallas Cowboys 12-10 on September 29, the Saints defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 13-6 on Sunday to improve to 5-1 on the year and 4-0 since the thumb injury felt around the Who Dat Nation.
In the four games since losing Drew Brees, the Saints have allowed a measly 16.8 points-per-game, and a few of those points came when the team was playing “prevent defense” with big leads against Seattle in week 3 and Tampa Bay last week. With Sean Payton at the helm of New Orleans’ offense, 16.8 PPG on defense is a number that will allow the Saints to come out of a game victorious more often than not.
Yesterday’s game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville was either a masterpiece or an ignominy, depending on the type of football you like. The Saints’ defense was masterful, stifling, and did not allow a single touchdown to the Jaguars. On the other hand, New Orleans’ offense did the bare minimum (two field goals and a touchdown) to win. Because until week two of this season Saints fans had witnessed 13 years of high-scoring wizardry with Drew Brees as the signal-caller, this new reality is a bit hard to accept. What we should not forget is that the NFL requires no style points. The Saints are 5-1 and have the second-best record in the NFC and third-best in the NFL after week 6. Oh, and they are going to get one of the greatest midseason “free agent” pickup when Drew Brees returns in a few weeks. Enjoy the ride, it promises to be a fun one.
Five Numbers...That Don’t Lie
· 9: The number of consecutive wins by the Saints against AFC opponents dating back to the 2017 season. On September 17, 2017, the Saints lost a 36-20 home game to the New England Patriots. Since that defeat in week two of the 2017 campaign, New Orleans swept the rest of the AFC East (Dolphins, Bills and Jets) in 2017, swept the AFC North in 2018 (Browns, Ravens, Bengals and Steelers) and has beaten the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019. Not too shabby.
· 6: The number of points allowed by the Saints yesterday. I know, you knew that already. Here is what is remarkable about that: those six points are the fewest allowed by a Saints defense since October 1, 2017. That day the Saints crushed the Miami Dolphins 20-0 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. It was the second win in a row for New Orleans, who was en route to an 8-game winning streak.
· 5. The number of sacks by Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan through six games in 2019, after he recorded two sacks against the Jaguars yesterday. At this rate, Jordan is on pace for 13 sacks this year. Jordan’s consistency is something to behold, as he has led the Saints in sacks in four of the last five years, with 12 and 13 sacks in 2018 and 2017 respectively.
· 3: The number of receptions by Jaguars’ wide receiver D.J. Chark yesterday. The former LSU Tiger is quickly becoming a star in Jacksonville and was coming off a wowing performance against the Carolina Panthers last week: 8 catches (on 11 targets), 164 yards and two touchdowns. Guarded by reborn Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore for most of yesterday’s game, Chark was targeted seven times and caught just three of those passes for 43 yards and no touchdowns. The Saints’ defense is working at every level these days.
· 1: The number of first downs obtained via the rushing game by Jacksonville yesterday. As we keep marveling at the performances put up by the Saints’ defense, the numbers keep confirming what we’re seeing: after a game last week against the Carolina Panthers in which they recorded 4.8 yards-per-rush with 8 first downs via the run, the Jaguars’ potent running game led by Leonard Fournette was limited to 3.1 yards-per-rush and a single first down via the ground game. This is not a fluke, folks.
Beignets and Café au Lait Awards
· Fresh Beignets with Hot Coffee: Sean Payton. While we have complimented the Saints’ defense and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen for stepping up since Brees has been sidelined, the man at the head of the entire Saints’ organization also deserves a massive amount of credit. With Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, Payton has basically had to reinvent the way he coaches. While Brees is Payton’s right brain and the two men can literally finish each other’s thoughts, Bridgewater needs a little more nurturing. A little more, dare I say, babysitting. Payton has been forced to lean less on a future Hall-of-Famer at quarterback to complement his decisions. He has had to be less aggressive, more patient. He has punted more, gone for it on fourth down less. He has trusted his improved defense and accepted to win by in less flashy ways, using a lot more pieces of his team rather than just Brees, Thomas or Kamara. I believe that when Brees gets back, the Saints will be better off not only because they’ll be getting back a future Hall-of-Famer at quarterback, but also because their head coach will have become even better during Brees’ absence.
· More Fresh Beignets with Tasty Coffee: Latavius Murray. With Alvin Kamara a bit gimpy with a tender ankle, New Orleans needed first-year Saint Latavius Murray to help carry some of the rushing load against Jacksonville. Murray’s numbers do not pop of the page, but he played great situational football yesterday. Murray recorded 5.5 yards-per-rush on his eight attempts and caught all three passes thrown his way. On the final drive of the game, New Orleans took over with 6:09 left in the fourth quarter and ran the clock out. On the drive, Murray ran three times for gains of six, three and nine yards, helping the Saints ensure that Jacksonville never touched the ball again. This is exactly what Murray was brought in to do in New Orleans and in that regards, yesterday was a success.
· The Saints will play an NFC contender on the road next Sunday, as they travel to Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears (3-2) at 3:25 CT. Like New Orleans, Chicago has had to turn to their backup quarterback, after starter Mitchell Trubisky injured his shoulder on September 29 in a 16-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Former Saints’ backup quarterback Chase Daniel has assumed the starting position since Trubisky’s injury, finishing the win over the Vikings and losing 24-21 to the Oakland Raiders on October 6. Chicago will be coming off its bye-week and Trubisky could return to the lineup to face the Saints, although the Bears haven’t yet made a decision on whether he will be back in uniform. Chicago boasts a terrific defense led by outside linebacker Khalil Mack, while their offense is mediocre. Brace yourself for another defensive slugfest.
Following their win against the Jaguars yesterday, according to fivethirthyeight.com, the Saints now have the second-best odds of winning the Super Bowl at 14%, behind only the Pats (27%). Rounding out the top five are the still-undefeated San Francisco 49ers (8%), the Kansas City Chiefs (7%) and the Houston Texans (7%). New Orleans odds of winning the NFC South increased from 73% to 78%, followed by the Panthers (20%). Both the Bucs (< 1%) and Falcons (< 1%) have virtually no chance to win the division or to make the playoffs for that matter.
Hey, how come you’re still here? Get some work done! Unless you’re still drunk from celebrating yesterday’s debunking on the craze that was the “Minshew Mania,” in which case, carry on!
With games against the Bears (road) and Cardinals (home) on deck, what will the Saints’ record be going into the bye?
This poll is closed
7-1: I done told you that already. Championship!
6-2: They’ll lose in Chicago, but win at home.
5-3: They’ll lose in Chicago, and underestimate Arizona
Tired of these defensive slugfests. Where’s my 40-burger?