Saints/Ravens Preview: Statement Time

Just when you thought the Saints were going to let yet another team climb back into the game, Malcolm Jenkins takes the ball, and the momentum, back to the Saints’ side permanently. That’s twice in three weeks he’s turned around a game with one play. Big plays on both offense and defense. Special teams turns in their best performance of the year at just the right time. Running game gets healthy for the stretch run and in turn, the play action sees some action! A healthy, quality, much needed, three-phase win, where the outcome was really never in doubt after Jenkins TD. More like that, please.

Loved the 3 p.m. kickoff. Absolutely loved it. Dear NFL, can we have the West coast teams’ schedule? It would be great to see the Saints play at 3 for every home, non-prime time game. It’s great for the city’s businesses, great for television – the Saints are now worth big ratings in the rest of the country- and fans can leisurely cure their Saturday night hangovers rather than blearily chug bloody Mary’s in line at the Dome. We New Orleanians are practiced in the art of what my drummer calls “PTK”, or Party Til Kickoff (He actually says it “Pawty Til Kickoff, brah”, as he downs the rest of the Jack), and we love the extra pawtyin’ time. The 3 p.m. kickoff means that many more hours for hundreds of thousands of area fans to consume brunches, dinners, beers, cocktails, and indulge in general Saints mayhem. That’s good for New Orleans, good for the NFL, and good for TV.

Inside the dome, however, I have some serious problems, mostly stemming from a lack of communication with the fans. There are never stats posted from the game we are watching, let alone from other games around the league. When Courtney Roby went down, no one knew what was going on or even who was down. How about an announcement? Or a graphic on a screen? And since phones don’t work in there, we couldn’t even check what was up on the web. Hey Saints brass, here’s an idea: how about hire a guy whose job it is to keep the 70,000 people who spend a jillion dollars every week up to date on your and the NFL’s product?  Or if that’s too much money, maybe just spend $40 on a wireless router so we can do it ourselves. The state of Louisiana gives you $15 million a year – and our tax dollars aren’t at work. They’re leaning on a shovel. What’s that? Oh right, sorry. That’s the “Don’t Make Me Move to L.A. Tax”.  (Sigh) Never mind, I’ll check up on Roby and my fantasy leagues when I get home.

Baltimore looked really good on Monday against Houston. Then they looked really tired and old. I’m hoping that game and the short week takes something out of them. The cold and snow is always a factor, and with a potential outdoor playoff match up at Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, or Green Bay looming, this game could be a good indication of future success on the road in the elements. Can the Saints build on their solid team effort? Will the cold/snow/wind affect them? Here’s what Madden had to say:

Heath Evans scores.

Playing the Saints offense on Madden without Pierre and Reggie for so long has been like driving a Porsche with a flat tire. Not the worst, but not awesome. Now they’re back, and with the emergence of Ivory, it’s like driving a pod racer in Tatooine’s Boonta Eve Classic (that’s a Star Wars reference for all you non-nerds). I added snow to the game to see if affects the fake Saints. (At press time, only a 10 percent chance of precipitation in Baltimore with a projected high of 37 degrees.–ED.)

New Orleans marches down the field before Colston is stripped at the 13. Uh oh. But the Ravens go 3 and out. On the next possession, Meachem catches a score from the 18. Baltimore responds with a good drive and Ray Rice punches it in. Evans finishes the next drive with a 14-yard TD catch on an all-out Baltimore blitz.

Baltimore drives to their own 49, then have to punt. On the next play, Meachem hauls in a 69-yard TD!

Meachem for seven, then a moment of prayer.

With 40 seconds left in the half, Leigh Torrence intercepts Joe Flacco and takes it to the five.

Torrence intercepts, then is run out of bound (instead of running himself out like Roman Harper)

Brees hits D. Thomas on the next play to go into the half up 28-7.

Baltimore will not score again. Henderson catches a TD and Hartley adds a forty yard field goal as POG Brees hits 17 of 28 for 5 TDs, 0 INTs, to pace New Orleans to a 38-7 statement win.

New Orleans converts 71 percent on third down, while holding the Ravens to 33 percent. Ivory gets 51 yards on 10 carries and Shockey is a beast with 4 catches for 96 yards.

Shockey being a beast.

Meachem ends up with 3 catches for 105 yards, 2 TDs, and Brown and Ellis each collect 1 sack. Bush has 3 runs for 15 yards, 2 catches for 16 yards, and 6 punt returns for 89 yards.

Looking forward to: This year’s “Happy Holidays” vs. “Christmas” card ratio. I’m going to guess it’s 60/40, up from last year’s 50/50.

Not looking forward to: Seattle losing to Atlanta, effectively ending the Saints’ already feeble number one seed hopes. Seahawks! Come on!

Media Prediction: Patriots hype – a.k.a. “Chowdahhead fevah”, a.k.a. “Return of the Gassy Massholes”, a.k.a. “Don’t fahkin’ tahk tah me about that dahg murdahrah Micheal Vick! If Tommy Brady doesn’t win thah MVP, I sweah to Gahd, I’m gahnna punch somebahdy in thah fahkin’ face!” – goes into top gear after they demolish the Packers.

Madden Tip: When playing with other Saints fans, why not play The Saints against – The Saints? Then you won’t get so upset when you get scored on. “Oh Pierre, I can’t stay mad at you.”