The New Orleans Saints notched another “ugly win” under their belt as they defeated the Chicago Bears 26-23 on Sunday afternoon. The Saints now boast a 5-2 record heading into their Sunday Night Football matchup with the Tom Brady-led, 6-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With three of New Orleans’ top wide receivers out last Sunday, this game came down to the defense, especially the front line making big plays and Alvin Kamara continuing his tear to eke out the win.
Still, there are a ton of takeaways, so let’s get to it - here are our biggest takeaways from Sunday afternoon’s game:
Drew Brees did just enough to get the job done
It seems that every week Brees is either a part of our takeaways, overreactions, or in many cases, both. But, it makes sense: the 41-year old quarterback is in what is presumably the last season of his career. He has also received more scrutiny ahead of this season than any other in recent memory, and continues to do so despite the season being halfway complete.
However, this team’s playoffs - and ultimately Super Bowl - dreams hinge on Brees’s continued success and play down the stretch. In Week 7, when both Michael Thomas and Emannuel Sanders were ruled out, Saints fans thought the sky was falling. What did Brees do against the Panthers? He turned in another vintage performance, and now we all can’t stop talking about Marquez Callaway. That’s a good thing.
So what happened when all three of Thomas, Sanders and Callaway were ruled out in Week 8 against a stout Bears defense? The exact same thing we did the week before but ten-fold. If you listen to Pro Football Focus, then Brees isn’t getting the job done. I wholeheartedly disagree.
I am admittedly a Drew Brees apologist, there’s no mistaking that. I can understand why analytics might not rate him highly, but that is the beautiful thing about football as opposed to something more analyltics-driven like say, baseball. Numbers are great, but the communication and thing between Drew’s ears is what helps separate him from the rest, even at 41-years-old. Brees lacked his top receiving options not named Kamara against the Bears, had to rely on an absolutely abysmal defense to create opportunities, and did it all while playing in the cold, outside.
And the Saints still won. He did just enough to get the job done.
Alvin Kamara leads the Offensive Player of the Year race
We can’t talk about Brees’s success without immediately pivoting to Kamara’s insane 2020 season. We all knew the running back was special, but after an injury-riddled 2019 and a massive new contract, there was some question of what version of Kamara would show up on 2020.
It’s been better than any of us could have ever hoped for.
Where do we even start? To start, he has 55 receptions on the year, which is on pace to break the record for running backs that currently sits at 119. Kamara is also boasting 987 yards from scrimmage, most in the NFL, and it isn’t particularly close. Against the Bears, he had a whopping 163 yards from scrimmage.
Without Thomas and Sanders in the mix, Kamara has been the player that the offense and Brees have relied upon to literally and figuratively carry the team. The running back is regularly making incredible plays that inject life into the offense and put them in position to make good things happen.
To be frank, he is playing at an MVP-caliber level, but the last running back to win the award was Adrian Peterson in 2012 when he rushed for 2,097 yards. Instead, Kamara is proving that he is in the MVP conversation, but if he continues at his current pace, he has OPOY all but locked up.
The New Orleans defensive line can be a very good unit
The Saints defensive line has been quietly good all season, but they really came alive against Chicago. Yes, the Bears were missing many of their starting offensive lineman, but the Saints defensive line was still able to feast. New Orleans recorded five sacks, and a lot of players got in on the action: Cam Jordan recorded a much needed sack, Sheldon Rankins and Marcus Davenport split a sack, and David Onyemata and Trey Hendrickson each recorded a sack.
We are all well aware that the defensive woes for New Orleans stem from the secondary’s play. But, the defensive line has proven all season that they once again will stuff opposing run games, they will put pressure on the opposing quarterback, and they can be relied upon every single week to make a big play when it’s needed.
They came through once again in Week 8 against Chicago.
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