We are back! The 2021-22 NFL season is underway, with the ecstasy of victory and the agony of untimely interceptions. So, let’s take a look at what happened in the Saints’ game yesterday. But before that...
As always, for our novice or non-New Orleanians readers, 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.
What Just Happened?
The New Orleans Saints have been in playoff mode for two straight weeks now: after losing five games in a row when they were 5-2, the streaky Saints have now won two games in a row, but the latest win was a beautifully ugly wonder of a game. The Saints beat the juggernaut Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-0. Not only is it crazy that the Saints shut the highest-scoring team in the NFL this season out, they did so by frustrating the heck out of the GOAT himself, Tom Brady. Since joining the Buccaneers at the beginning of the 2020 season, Brady is now 0-4 against the Saints in the regular season. The Bucs of course, got the most important win in the head-to-head series last year in the divisional round of the playoffs when they beat the Saints in the Superdome. But even in that game, Tampa’s defense was really the force that propelled them New Orleans. Whatever defense he is calling, coupled with the way his players execute it, Dennis Allen has Brady and the Bucs offense’s number in a way that perfectly illustrates the adage: matchups make fight. New Orleans is now 7-7 and firmly entrenched in the Wild Card race, with three games left in the regular season. Buckle up, this fun ride is going to be a little longer.
Beignets and Café au Lait Awards
Hot Beignets and Hot Café au Lait: Cam Jordan.
Maybe Cam Jordan needed a little “bye week” in this late season? After sitting out last week’s game against the New York Jets because of COVID-19 protocols, Jordan made his return to the field and was it a sight to behold! Jordan was everywhere, as he sacked Tom Brady twice, reaching the 100-sack mark while doing so. He also forced a fumble by Brady deep in the Saints’ red zone, when the Bucs looked like they might get on the scoreboard. If you saw the Saints’ offense last night (three field goals, zero touchdowns), you know that New Orleans’ defense playing lights out was the only way for the Black and Gold to come out of Tampa with a win. Jordan set the tone early for the Saints’ defense and they never relented.
More Hot Beignets and Hot Café au Lait: Dennis Allen.
Sean Payton really has Bruce Arians’ number and the way Payton led the Saints last night was masterful. Wait: Sean Payton was not on the sideline last night. No, the Saints’ head coach tested positive for COVID-19 and missed the game entirely, with defensive coordinator Dennis Allen assuming the interim head coach duties. Allen obviously had the help of Saints’ offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael to take care of the other side of the ball, but he still called the defense in this game, while also having to be the final decision-maker on things like going for it on 4th down vs. kicking a field goal. And clearly, the way New Orleans’ defense played, Allen was not distracted at all. His defense, which was on the field for 73 plays, held the Bucs to 6-of-19 on third down (32%), forced two turnovers and much more importantly, held the Bucs to exactly zero points. It will be a small miracle if Allen is not a strong consideration for head coaching vacancies this upcoming offseason. It would be a big loss for the Saints, but certainly well-deserved for Dennis Allen, who may now be fully ready to become an NFL head coach again.
The incredibly good feeling the Saints have from yesterday’s win in Tampa would be totally erased and replaced with utter disappointment if New Orleans does not capitalize on this momentum by beating the Miami Dolphins next Monday night in the Caesars Superdome. The Dolphins (7-7) were once 1-7 on the season, losing seven in a row after a season-opening win against the New England Patriots all the way back in September. Six consecutive wins later, the Dolphins are back in playoff contention in the AFC. This matchup on December 27 will pit two teams against each other that share identical records and aspirations: do whatever it takes to make it to the postseason. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa despite some inconsistency, has played well in his second season in the NFL. As a quarterback that can scramble and extend plays, he will present a much different challenge to the Saints’ defense than the virtually immobile Tom Brady did last night. Miami also has a ferocious defense that will give the already limited Saints’ offense fits. Needless to say, that this game will be a tough contest and that the Saints have their work cut out for them to get to 8-7 on the season. Wouldn’t that be something to behold though, if after losing five games in a row in the middle of the season, the Saints found themselves above .500 and in prime position to make a postseason run? The Dolphins are feeling the same way about their season. That’s why they play the games.
Is your hope in the Saints making the playoffs restored?
This poll is closed
Yes and I never doubted them.
I am cautiously optimistic. Let them beat the Dolphins and we’ll talk.
No, they will find a way to lose a game they shouldn’t.
No, all this means is that they’ll get a mediocre draft pick.
I always hope that a juicy burger will restore my day.
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