How many times have you looked at the NFL standings since Sunday night? Yeah, me too. Good times are good to have and the Saints have been putting on a show this past month. Yes friends, it’s high times in New Orleans as the Saints have now won four in a row after beating the Green Bay Packers 26-17 at Lambeau Field. Better yet, the win has the Saints (4-2) sitting all alone at the top of the NFC South.
Can a brother get a Who Dat?
Saints in a Groove
Yes, the game started poorly with the Packers marching to a 7-0 lead but, without Aaron Rodgers, Sunday was never really in doubt. Even as Drew Brees was throwing two uncharacteristic early interceptions, the day seemed always in hand. Moreover, those two drives that ended in interceptions were good drives up to that point with the offense moving the ball with relative ease.
The offense is looking the way it should have been from the beginning of the season. Perhaps it just takes time or perhaps just getting rid of the Adrian Peterson distraction (and distraction was the only thing that was truly “All Day” in his short time here) but the offense has finally shown life in the run game behind the breaking out of Mark Ingram, who went for 105 yards and a touchdown on the day. Since Peterson’s departure, Ingram has posted back-to-back 100-yard efforts and three touchdowns.
The other half of the Saints stable, Alvin Kamara, also put on a nice show with 57 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving on five catches. The Saints have talked about it all year and Kamara’s pass-catching ability is really coming to the forefront as the Packers can attest to after Kamara gobbled up first downs throughout the game.
While Brees’ stats almost seemed workmanlike there were two examples of the offense starting to click that jumped off of the TV screen Sunday afternoon.
The first, and most important, was the re-introduction of Michael Thomas into the offense. Yes, it might be a little over the top to put it that way but Thomas only had three catches for 11 yards last week versus the Detroit Lions and was quiet most of the first half. But, when the offense needed to start moving the ball and putting points on the board it was Brees hitting Thomas for hard-fought gains over the middle that moved the chains. Thomas would end up with seven catches for 82 yards.
We also have to start talking about the connection being built between Brees and Ted Ginn, Jr. Make no mistake about it, Ginn is going to have a career year. The burner is on track for 940 yards receiving which would be the high mark in his 11-year career. His 141 yards receiving were the most yards in a game he’s had since way back in the good ole’ days of 2008. It’s evident that Ginn is not here to only return kicks and punts, he is an integral part of this passing attack. Now, just as long as he can catch those punts cleanly from here on out everything should be fine.
On the defensive side, Marshon Lattimore has made the Saints looks like geniuses. Six games in and the first round pick from Ohio State is playing like a veteran in his prime. Quarterbacks are already trying not to throw at the rookie. Pro Football Focus, with all of their jazzy stats, rates Lattimore as the highest rated rookie ever after seven weeks. It feels like this is only the first of many accolades that will be showered upon this cornerback.
Saints Win Streak
After dropping the first two games of the year, it has been a great four weeks that now has New Orleans sitting a half-game up on the Carolina Panthers (4-3), a team they’ve already beaten this year.
The run has seen impressive stats put up by the — believe it or not — defense. Over the four-game win streak, according to The Advocate’s Nick Underhill, the boys in Black and Gold have only given up 270 yards and 13.5 points a game. That’s nasty. That’s what wins football games — a lot of them.
So, how happy should we get? What’s ahead?
The immediate future will make your mouth water. The next two weeks have the Saints hosting the Chicago Bears (3-4) and division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4). The Bears are once again touting their defense but when your quarterback only completed four passes last week what else are you going to say? That’s a team the Saints should feast on. Tampa Bay is just Tampa Bay. They have a hard time winning games but are talented. The Saints have already beaten teams way better than the Bucs this year.
With that said, it’s not out of the question that the Saints are sitting at 6-2 in two weeks with a road trip to Buffalo to face an average at best Bills teams which could send the Saints to…
OK Hold on. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s enjoy them though because even as the cool weather has finally arrived, Sundays in the Crescent City are getting hot again.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Parish Brewing’s “Ghost in the Machine” Double IPA
Playlist Recommendation: The Cramps – “I Was A Teenage Werewolf”
Around the Way
Speaking of getting ahead of ourselves, the Tulane Green Wave (3-4) could not pull off the upset bid, falling to the University of South Florida, 34-28. Tulane could not hang with the Bulls as USF (7-0) jumped out to a 34-7 lead in the second half before the Green Wave rally fell short.
It was a game that exemplified the limitations of the Green Wave offense. For Tulane to crack the upper echelon of the American Athletic Conference they have to develop a passing attack. End of story.
The Green Wave have Jonathan Banks and should incorporate more of a pass-first mentality at points in the game. As of now, Tulane doesn’t pass at all until they find themselves in a hole. Banks has a good arm and is a playmaker. Tulane needs to take a chance and see what Banks can do for them through the air.