Playoff Time in New Orleans
Eagles come back to town
“I guess they don’t know it’s bird season in Louisiana.”
That’s a quote I heard from a stranger as I was standing outside the Super Dome selling Gameday magazines the first time the Philadelphia Eagles came to town this year. Truer words were never spoken as that game ended in an absolute blowout with the New Orleans Saints cruising to a 48-7 victory.
It’s not going to be that easy this time.
Obviously I hope it is but, looking back, one can say that Sunday in mid-November was the offensive peak of the season — a peak whose heights have not been seen again. That Sunday saw the Saints eclipse 45 points for the third straight week in a span the club was winning by an average of 29 points. They were literally unstoppable.
The road got rougher after that as the club went 4-2 down the stretch with a highly questionable defensive performance against the Carolina Panthers, who were starting a backup quarterback. The club also needed a Taysom Hill blocked punt to jumpstart their victory over Tampa Bay on the road and stumbled through a 12-9 victory over the Panthers in Charlotte.
Now here come the Eagles looking for revenge.
Philadelphia will be sporting a Rocky-sized chip on its shoulder as more than a few players have said they think the Saints ran up the score in the last contest. One, they’re correct; the Saints did run up the score. Two, if they don’t want teams to run up the score they should try to play some defense.
Jason Peters, Eagles’ offensive tackle, is one of those players and grumbled that the outcome is going to be different this time. I couldn’t agree more. It’s highly unlikely that the game will end 48-7 again. I’m thinking it’s going to be closer to 35-17 victory for the Black and Gold.
Major side note here — the story containing the Peters’ quote linked to above is very short but contains two of my favorite sports clichés. It states that the Eagles are “relishing” being the underdog as if they definitely wouldn’t want to be favored in the game. It also touches on how I wish one day a player would just say, “Yeah, they crushed us last time and I think they’re going to crush us again. I don’t see us having any chance of winning.” If a player ever says that, I promise you, I’ll be wearing their jersey the next week.
All kidding aside, the Saints’ offense must be licking their chops to line up against this defense again. Honestly, this match up could be what ignites this offense to storm through the rest of the playoffs. The Saints punted once each half in the last game and embarrassed the Eagles’ defense with scoring drives of 57, 86, 89 and another 89 yards. That was just the first half, folks. I promise you Drew Brees can’t wait for Sunday to get here.
However, the tone of the game will be decided on the other side of the ball. Can the defense return to form and shut down the now Nick Foles-led Eagles offense? If not, we’ll have a shootout on our hands. I think the Saints win either way but it would be cool not to be sweating in the fourth quarter.
The first quarter will be key in this matchup. If the Saints come out and put up touchdowns early this game is over. Likewise, if the defense gets to Foles and forces punts or gets some interceptions (this team has to be due for some picks) then it’s going to be a helluva time all over the Crescent City this Sunday night.
Here’s to Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram and Michael Thomas dancing on the sidelines in the second half once again and Choppa Style to repeatedly roar through the Super Dome.
The road to the Super Bowl begins this Sunday in the Super Dome at 3:30 p.m.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Port Orleans Brewing’s “Sean Payton” Blonde Ale
Playlist Recommendation: Choppa – “Choppa Style”
Around the Way
With Clemson’s 44-16 annihilation of Alabama the college bowl season has officially drawn to a close. Once again, the SEC had a decent performance in the post-season showdowns. In the Fiesta Bowl, LSU outlasted UCF 40-32 in a fun game that saw both clubs missing major contributors.
With the win, the season ends with the LSU Tigers at 10-3. It is the first time they’ve reached that double-digit plateau since 2013. Expectations will be sky high next year as quarterback Joe Burrow returns and the Tigers will enter the season in the Top Ten.
In other bowls, the SEC ran wild over the Big Ten going 3-1 with two blowouts (Florida whipped Michigan 41-15, Auburn embarrassed Purdue 63-14) and an upset (#14 Kentucky beat #12 Penn State 27-24).
From Renaissance Publishing:
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