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Beignets and Café au Lait: Here Comes Brees vs. Brady Part III

Saints tame the Bears, set up playoffs divisional round showdown with Bucs

Wild Card Round - Chicago Bears v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Hi 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” brunch, where we talk about the state of the Black and Gold, we debate the goings-on with the team and talk about what’s next at 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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What Just Happened?

The New Orleans Saints started their 2020-2021 “NFL playoffs demon-exorcising tour” with a 21-9 Wild Card win over the Chicago Bears yesterday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. If you haven’t watched Saints football the past four years, the Saints have had excruciating playoffs losses dating back to 2017, with each defeat incredibly coming by one score.

In the first half of yesterday’s game, the Saints’ offense played like a unit that felt the pressure of righting the wrongs of years past. Handoff was fumbled, untimely Taysom Hill play was called, promptly followed by hesitation to throw the ball and fumble. Passes were behind receivers or dropped, and blocks were missed. It looked ugly. At halftime, the Saints led 7-3.

Maybe in the halftime locker room head coach Sean Payton said a simple phrase to his team: Just play! Payton famously uttered the phrase to his team in the first half of the 2009 Super Bowl against the Indianapolis Colts. New Orleans was down 10-0 and floundering, when the NFL Films mics caught Payton on the sideline, frustrated at the apparent nervousness of his guys. The Saints proceeded to win that game. In the second half yesterday, New Orleans finally decided to play on offense, winning the time of possession by nearly 18 minutes, increasing its lead to 21-3 and never looking back.

On defense, the Saints were as excellent as they have been all season: Chicago was held to 11 total first downs, four of those coming on a fourth quarter 99-yard garbage time drive that saw the Bears score their one and only touchdown of the game. Chicago went 1-for-10 on third down (10%) and had only 48 total rushing yards. Despite missing sack-leader Trey Hendrickson, Dennis Allen’s unit once again showed up when the offense was struggling to find its rhythm, and shut down Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears limited offense.

The Saints are now 1-0 in the 2020-21 playoffs, three wins away from their admitted preseason goal of winning Super Bowl LV in Tampa. To have a chance to achieve that, they will first have to eliminate Tampa’s new favorite son next Sunday in the divisional round.

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Beignets and Café au Lait Awards

Tons of Beignets, Unlimited Café au Lait Refills: Deonte Harris.

One of the hardest things to do in life and in sports is to rise up to the occasion. when the lights get brighter, some shrink, while others shine. Yesterday, Saints returner/wide receiver Deonte Harris showed he is not afraid of the moment. With the Chicago Bears often electing to double-team Saints’ number one receiver Michael Thomas, Drew Brees spread the ball around to 10 receivers. Among them, Harris was targeted seven times, as many times as Thomas and tight end Jared Cook. While Thomas caught five of his seven targets and Cook caught four, Harris caught all seven balls thrown his way. He led all Saints receivers with 83 yards, while adding 22 yards on three returns for a total of 105 yards in the game. The Saints have to be excited to have found yet another weapon for Drew Brees in the passing game.

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Tons of Beignets, Unlimited Café au Lait Refills: Alvin Kamara.

When this season is over for the Saints, I will count how many times Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara has appeared in this section, just for the fun of it. It will be many times, I’m sure. With backup running back Latavius Murray leaving the game with a thigh injury late in the third quarter, the Saints turned to Kamara to carry the rushing load and the versatile running back responded by carrying the ball 23 times for 99 yards and one rushing touchdown. Can Alvin Kamara be an every-down, bell cow type of running back? If this season has been any indication, the answer is a resounding yes. He narrowly missed out on his first 1,000-yard rushing season when he sat out the last game of the regular season because of a positive COVID-19 test and finished the year with 932 rushing yards (14th in the NFL) and 16 rushing touchdowns (tied for 2nd in the NFL). Against the Bears, he was instrumental in helping the Saints keep drives going and wearing down the Bears’ defense. Here’s to hoping that Murray’ injury is not serious, as a fresh Kamara is always more lethal to opposing defenses. as to where the 2020 Saints would be without AK41? Not ready to play Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs in the divisional round of the playoffs.

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What’s Next?

There it is: Brees vs. Brady, Part III is upon us. With New Orleans beating Chicago yesterday, the NFC divisional round is now set: While the sixth seed Los Angeles Rams will go to freezing Lambeau Field to face the top-seeded Green Bay Packers, the fifth-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be traveling to NOLA for a third meeting with the Saints this season on Sunday evening at 5:40 CT. New Orleans defeated Tampa Bay 34-23 at home in week one of the regular season, then beat the Bucs again in week nine, a 38-3 thrashing at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Now the Buccaneers come to town on the heels of their road-victory against the Washington Football Team, hoping to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Saints this season. New Orleans meanwhile will be attempting to qualify for its fourth NFC Championship Game appearance in franchise history, and the second in the past four seasons (2017). Getcha popcorn ready, this one figures to be a barn burner.

Poll

How do you feel about the Saints following their 21-9 victory over the Bears?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    We are going all the way! Championship!
    (85 votes)
  • 48%
    I’m nervous about that third meeting with Tampa
    (201 votes)
  • 6%
    Coach, could we stop with the Taysom Hill gadget plays? Okay never mind
    (29 votes)
  • 21%
    This Saints’ defense is on a mission.
    (90 votes)
  • 2%
    I feel like eating 5 double cheeseburgers. What was the question?
    (12 votes)
417 votes total Vote Now