The New Orleans Saints walked into Cleveland on Christmas Eve and faced playoff elimination.
However, not even sub-zero wind chills kept the Saints down as they were able to outlast the Cleveland Browns 17-10 and keep their playoff hopes alive, although small.
Here are some of the key factors of the game:
The running game was critical
In weather conditions like the ones New Orleans faced this past weekend, it’s very difficult to try to move the football downfield aerially.
So, stick with Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill, forcing the Browns to stop your rushing attack. Both players combined for 132 yards to go along with a pair of touchdowns against the Cleveland defense, proving enough to get a win in frigid conditions.
The Saints' Defense was all over the place
Holding the Browns to 250 yards of total offense in their own stadium is a big win.
When you shut down the running game to where Deshaun Watson has to throw it 30+ times in the snow is an even bigger win.
New Orleans was able to slow down the Browns just enough to make them uncomfortable and make mistakes, leading to a key interception by Daniel Sorenson during the game. Also, the Carl Granderson sack to seal the game was *chef’s kiss*.
The coaching staff saved their jobs
Now, I’m not explicitly saying they were getting fired if the bad stretch continued, but the noise around the fanbase was starting to become deafening.
However, winning two straight games and going into Philadelphia with confidence might be a dangerous thing. Dennis Allen has shown that he can put this team in a position to win games, but the question will become “can it happen consistently?”
Pete Carmichael is still on the hot seat in my honest opinion, but Dennis Allen cooled his seat down a bit while being in the Ohio weather.
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