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Beignets and Café au Lait: Saints Stay Alive for Top-Two Seed

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With their 34-7 defeat of the Colts, Saints are still in play for a bye week

Indianapolis Colts v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

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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Writer’s Note: In order to provide you with more focused pieces, starting this week, I will break down my “Beignets and Café au lait” feature in three parts over consecutive days. First a recap piece with the Beignets and Café au lait awards, then the next day a “Five Numbers That Don’t Lie” article, delving into the the remarkable numbers from the previous Saints’ game. Finally a piece with “Super Bowl and Playoffs Odds” that examines the Saints’ position and odds regarding the playoffs and the Super Bowl.

Let’s dive right in!

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What Just Happened?

History!

On a night when the New Orleans Saints were honoring the Super Bowl XLIV winners, Drew Brees and the Saints dismantled the Indianapolis Colts 34-7 on Monday Night Football. Someone at the NFL offices knew something when they scheduled the Colts, the very team the Saints beat ten years ago in that Super Bowl, to be the opponent on this night.

Brees was nearly perfect: The Saints’ quarterback completed 29 of 30 passes to nine different receivers for 307 yards, four touchdowns and no interception. Brees’ 29-of-30 mark for a 96.7% completion percentage is another NFL record, beating the 96.6% mark established last season by Los Angeles Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers.

But I am burying the lead: Brees’ second touchdown pass of the game was the 539th of his career, tying him with Peyton Manning for first in NFL history. His first touchdown pass of the second half, a play-action pass to tight end Josh Hill gave him sole possession of the record, which he extended later in the third quarter on a 28-yard touchdown pass to Taysom Hill.

Brees finished the game with 541 career touchdown passes, three ahead of Tom Brady (538). It is going to be fun seeing Brees and Brady go back and forth over the remaining years of their respective career, as the Patriots’ quarterback sent a congratulatory tweet to Brees in which he stated that the record was going to be hard to beat, but “worth trying.”

Maybe just as encouraging was the play of the Saints’ defense, coming off a dismal showing against the San Francisco 49ers last week. The Saints sacked Colts’ quarterback Jacoby Brissett only once, but they harassed him all night. New Orleans limited Brissett to just 18 completions on 34 attempts, and held the Colts to just 46 rushing yards and a 2.7 yard-per-rush average. In all, Indy had only 205 yards of total offense. Rookie cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson was particularly active with eight total tackles, two tackles for loss and six solo tackles. He unfortunately left the game in the fourth with what appeared to be a head injury.

Another concern for the Saints will be right guard Larry Warford, who left the game early in the third quarter with a knee injury and did not return. The Saints now at 11-3, have to win out if they want a chance to earn one of the NFC’s top-two spots and the coveted first-round bye in the playoffs. However, as is often the case this time of the year, the healthiest team is likely going to be the one left standing at the end.

Overall, it was a good night for the New Orleans Saints, who once again saw Drew Brees make history on Monday Night Football and improved its record to 11-3. This is now the third year in a row that the Saints have won at least 11 games, and they have two games to tie their franchise-best record of 13-3.

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Beignets and Café au Lait Awards

· Fresh Beignets with Hot Coffee: Drew Brees. What is it about Monday Night Football and Drew Brees? Also, could we just play every Saints’ game on Monday Night from now on? Brees was magnificent yesterday night against the Colts, a team he seems to love playing against. While throwing four touchdown passes and rewriting the NFL record books, Brees completed his final 22 passes of the game and it felt as though the Saints could simply name their score against the Colts last night.

· Stale Beignets with Lukewarm Coffee: Penalties. Despite playing a relatively clean game, the Saints still gifted over half a football field in penalties (6 for 52 yards) to the Colts last night. More disturbing is when the penalties occurred and their impact on the game.

With 14 seconds left on the clock before halftime, Drew Brees thought he had just broken Peyton Manning’s record with a touchdown pass to Tre’Quan Smith, only for the score to be nullified by a pass interference call on Smith. The Saints would then settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown.

In a blowout game like last night, that penalty did not end up costing the Saints, but they won’t be so lucky in a tight playoff game with that type of mistake. Although referees have seemed to be whistle happy against the Saints this season, New Orleans hasn’t always helped its own case. The biggest question is: going into week 16, how do they fix it?

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What’s Next?

The Saints will face the Tennessee Titans (8-6) on the road next Sunday at 12 PM CT. The Titans lost for the first time in five games to division rival Houston Texans (9-5) in a tight 24-21 contest. Tennessee has been revived since quarterback Ryan Tannehill took over for the struggling Marcus Mariota, going 5-2 in their last seven games and contending for the AFC South division. Tennessee also features Bruising running back Derrick Henry, so the Saints have their work cut out for them on the road next week.

However, with the potential of a bye week on the line, the Saints will be game. New Orleans, unlike last year, seems to be gaining steam instead of fading late in the season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Drew Brees in particular seems fresh, as it looks as though the thumb injury that kept him our for five games might have been a blessing in disguise for the Saints.

Buckle up folks, winter football is here!

Poll

How will the Saints finish the regular season with games at the Titans and at the Panthers?

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    2-0 baby! 13-3 finish
    (279 votes)
  • 6%
    1-1. Loss at Titans, win at Panthers. 12-4 finish
    (19 votes)
  • 0%
    1-1. Win at Titans, loss at Panthers. 12-4 finish
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    0-2. Disaster strikes, 11-5 finish.
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Why couldn’t we finish the Colts with a 40-burger?
    (6 votes)
309 votes total Vote Now