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Beignets and Café au Lait: The Sky Is Dark, But It Is Not Falling

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The Saints got humbled by the Falcons. Let’s hope that makes them angry

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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Oh and let me not forget: Happy Veterans Day! We are all entitled to our opinion on war, and for the record, I am firmly against it. That said, I have great respect for those women and men who go overseas because “suits” order them to, and risk their lives because that is their job. Many families and individuals on this day have a heavy heart because there is a wife, sister, mother, husband, brother, father, or friend that they lost and miss dearly. I have an uncle that went to war and never made it back. So today, I am sending a good vibe to all of those families and individuals who have someone they know and love who has served or serves.

On to football!

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What Just Happened?

Yeah, actually: what in the world just happened? What sort of Voodoo football weekend in Louisiana was this? First LSU beats Bama for the first time in eight years, and in Tuscaloosa no less. Then the 7-1 (now 7-2) Saints get manhandled at home by the 1-7 (now 2-7) Atlanta Falcons.

In truth, this was not as shocking as one might think. I believe that yours truly even wrote a piece last week talking about the very fact that Atlanta, even as bad as they had looked, could upset the streaking Saints. Because this is NFL football, and even the worst teams have a bunch of first rounders on their roster.

Yesterday the Falcons wanted it more. It’s a cliché, but more often than not, it comes true. Atlanta played with more passion, rushed the passer with abandon. Dan Quinn coached old-school “run-run-pass” football and the Saints could not get off the field defensively when it mattered. When you look at the stat sheet, the Falcons only had 317 total net yards, which isn’t overwhelming, but they held the ball for 33:46 minutes, nearly half a quarter more than the 26:14 minutes the Saints had it. They harassed Drew Brees and blanketed the wide receivers. They stopped the run, when the Saints actually tried to run (only 11 attempts in the entire game). they beat the Saints up and New Orleans had absolutely no counter-punch.

That is the NFL: you better show up to play every game, because if you don’t, you’re going to get beat. That’s what happened to the Saints yesterday.

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Five Numbers...That Don’t Lie

  • 152. The receiving yards by Michael Thomas yesterday against Atlanta. One of the Saints that came to play yesterday, Thomas was targeted 14 times and caught 13 passes. The one incomplete pass was a high throw due to pressure in Drew Brees’ face. Thomas is the best receiver in the league right now and that is hardly debatable. What he and the Saints lack is a proper number two receiving option to take some of the pressure off of both he and Brees. Come the postseason, the Saints might regret not having made a play for a viable number two target at wide receiver.

  • 143. The total rushing yards allowed by the Saints to the Falcons yesterday. Atlanta rushed 34 times at a 4.2 yard-per-rush clip. If you wonder why the Saints’ offense was so often on the sidelines watching LSU-Bama highlights on their tablets, it’s because the Falcons won “first down” on most of their drives with running plays. In doing so, they were constantly able to move the chains. New Orleans, who had been the best in the NFL at stopping the run in their last five games, was unusually porous in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome yesterday.

  • 16. The number of years it took to see a 1-7 team beat a 7-1 team again in the NFL. While I thought it was possible for the Falcons to beat the Saints yesterday, an upset with such a record disparity is still a rarity in the NFL. On November 9, 2003, the 1-7 Jacksonville Jaguars led by Byron Leftwich beat the 7-1 Colts 28-23 in Jacksonville. Peyton Manning was 28-of-45 for 347 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while the Jags rushed for 174 yards and won the time of possession. Sounds familiar? In case you’re worried sick about the Saints, those 2003 Colts still finished the year 12-4 and went on to play in the AFC Championship game. All is not lost, Who Dat Nation.

  • 12. The number of penalties called and accepted on the Saints yesterday. Do you know what else contributes to a 1-7 team beating a 7-1 team? The favorite playing sloppily and being undisciplined. 12 penalties for 90 yards is gifting an opponent with what is almost the entire length of the football field, and it’s not even Christmas yet! Sean Payton and his staff will have to make sure that their players are better prepared when they go to Tampa Bay next Sunday.

  • 6. I wish I had happier numbers to share in this piece, but the truth is the truth and it hopefully shall set our Saints free for the remainder of the season. Six is the number of sacks of Drew Brees by the Falcons yesterday. But here’s what is even more mind-numbing: the Falcons came into this game with a grand total of seven sacks through eight games! Sacks are hard plays to decipher: sometimes it’s the line playing poorly. Other times, it’s the quarterback being hesitant and holding onto the ball a little too long. More often, it is a combination of the two. What is a certainty however, is that a team whose quarterback gets sacked six times is more likely to be on the losing side of the game.

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Beignets and Café au Lait Awards

  • Fresh Beignets with Hot Coffee: Jared Cook. The Saints’ newly acquired tight end continued to gel with Brees yesterday, catching six passes for 74 yards, with a long of 22. While the numbers are not necessarily eye-opening, the difficulty level of the catches and the good hands Cook is starting to show are a good omen for things to come as the season progresses.

  • More Fresh Beignets with Tasty Coffee: Michael Thomas. Do you have the feeling that whether the Saints are winning by 20 or losing by 20, Michael Thomas just plays hard? Runs his routes hard, catches the ball fiercely, stiff-arms opponents, sometimes even twists their facemask in the process. I have an absolute crush on Thomas the football player, but not just because of his numbers. Because I wish the Saints had about 53 players with his mental makeup, that’s a team that we would pencil in for the Super Bowl.

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What’s Next?

The Saints travel to Tampa Bay to face the schizophrenic and unpredictable Buccaneers (3-6) next Sunday at 12:00 PM CT. After losing a 40-34 overtime thriller to the Seahawks in Seattle on November 3, the Bucs barely survived to beat the Arizona Cardinals 30-27 at home yesterday. Tampa Bay however is always a tough opponent, and the Saints eked out a 31-24 win over the Bucs back in the teams first matchup back in week five. New Orleans will be looking to prove that they laid against the Falcons was just an outlier, while at 3-6, Tampa still believes that it has a chance to make some noise in the division. Buckle up, November is when NFL football gets good, contenders are revealed and pretenders are preparing for a long winter.

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Super Bowl Odds

Following their loss against the Falcons yesterday, according to fivethirthyeight.com, the Saints’ odds of winning the Super Bowl fell from 19% to 9%, which still ranks fourth in the NFL behind the Pats (23%), the still-undefeated San Francisco 49ers (15%) and the upstart Baltimore Ravens (14%). Rounding out the top five are the Minnesota Vikings (7%) and the Green Bay Packers (7%).

New Orleans’ odds of winning the NFC South decreased slightly from 91% to 85%, followed by the Panthers (14%). Despite their wins yesterday, both the Bucs (< 1%) and Falcons (< 1%) have virtually no chance to win the division or to make the playoffs.

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Hey, how come you’re still here? Get some work done! Unless you’re still drunk from drowning your sorrows after yesterday’s loss, in which case, carry right on.

Poll

How will the Saints to finish the regular season after yesterday’s loss?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    They’ll destroy the Bucs and run the table. 14-2 baby!
    (47 votes)
  • 24%
    They will lose one more, but that’s it, and finish 13-3.
    (68 votes)
  • 32%
    I think they’ll lose two more games and finish 12-4
    (90 votes)
  • 20%
    I see three more losses, an 11-5 finish, still a division win
    (55 votes)
  • 5%
    I see a Double Whopper finish after starting with a Triple Bacon Big Mac
    (14 votes)
274 votes total Vote Now