Sometimes you just never see it coming. One day, you’re walking around Uptown with a smile on your face and, the next thing you know, your friends have scheduled brunch right smack dab in the middle of the New Orleans Saints game. You look around, dazed, wondering how these once-intelligent human life forms could commit such a grave faux pas, but then your remember…bottomless mimosas.
I’m also happy to report that Apolline restaurant on Magazine Street has a TV over the small bar and a staff that loves them some Saints. So, the champagne and orange juice flowed like rainwater across a clogged Mid-City catch basin and the Saints brought home their 10th win of the season and are now one victory away from locking up their first playoff bid since 2013.
Now if they could just stop making every game so exciting.
It was another tense affair in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Now, there are a few different kinds of wild games — the shootout victory, the great comeback, the great last play to win the game and so on. This wasn’t any of those. This game was that dull thorn in your side type of game that has you looking at the scoreboard bewildered as to how this bad team called the New York Jets (5-9) could even be close enough to spring an upset.
The Saints (10-4) were about to put it away seemingly every few minutes in the second half but then Brandon Coleman fumbled in the red zone, then Coleman fumbled at mid-field then Drew Brees essentially handed New York’s defensive end Leonard Williams the ball to give the Jets possession in the red zone. The game was scary and could have been one of those losses that come back to haunt a ball club. But after all that drama it was Mark Ingram exploding through the right side of the line, behind fullback Zach Line. It was Ingram not being caught scampering down the sideline to secure the 31-19 victory for the Saints.
The Saints just wouldn’t break. Their all-world Defensive Player of the Year candidate Cam Jordan held down the defensive line while Marshon Lattimore, Rookie Defensive Player of the Year candidate, clogged the passing lanes. And don’t forget about everyone’s favorite Saint Alvin Kamara (Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate) putting up another touchdown. Turns out, the Saints have a lot of “of the Year” guys. Now, let’s just see if they can get over this sloppy stretch and rip through the next two weeks and burn a hole into the NFL playoffs.
The win sets up for a wild finish in the NFC South. The Saints — standby for cliché — control their own destiny. If they win out they will be NFC South champions. The crazy twist is they can also finish in third place of the NFC South. Oh the drama!
The men in Black and Gold host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday with a chance to exact a little revenge on the dirty birds and referees that gave Atlanta the Week 14 victory. A Saints win secures a playoff berth and might make the last regular game of the season versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers irrelevant or, that game could be for the NFC South title. Nothing comes easy, folks. So, strap up your chin pads. There’s still a lot of football to be played.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Drink Pairing: Orange Juice and Champagne make the world go round.
Playlist Recommendation: Cibo Matto – “Know Your Chicken”
Around the Way
Congratulations to Billy Napier on being named the head football coach of the UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns. Napier was formerly the offensive coordinator at Arizona State and has stints with Alabama and Clemson on his resume.
Napier takes over a team that is coming off of three straight losing campaigns and had absolutely no semblance of a defense last year. The Ragin’ Cajuns (5-7) gave up 45 or more points seven times in 2017. After kicking off next year versus Grambling, UL-Lafayette will travel to Mississippi State and Alabama so that’s something to look forward to, Ragin’ Cajun fans!