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Saints/Falcons Preview: Running Up the Score

Well that was rough. The Saints defense spotted the Ravens 21 points before settling down to hold them to three field goals the rest of the way. But it put Brees and the offense in the position of having to throw a million times versus about two rushing attempts. Sean Payton clearly had the idea that they should pass early, get a lead, take away the Ravens running game, and put the offense in the hands of Joe Flacco. Great plan – on paper. It worked against the Rams at home a week earlier. Too bad Ray Rice decided to have a career day and the Saints D seemed determined to go for the ball instead of tackle. That’s the risk part of this high risk/reward plan – when you can’t or won’t run the ball, when you make your job harder with drops and penalties, when you don’t convert third downs, you end up in a big hole, and never get the chance to pound it out on the ground late.

If the elements were a factor, and they were, I think it was simply that it was cold enough to make you think about it. And when you’re thinking about the cold, you’re not focusing on the play at hand. I grew up in Alaska, but I’ve lived in New Orleans so long, that when I go home, all I can think about is how fucking cold it is. I can imagine the Saints were thinking a little too much during the Ravens game. “Damn, I’m cold. I can’t feel my fingers. Does that mean I’m getting frostbite? Wait, does that guy have the ball? Shit! He did have the ball!” or “Gonna take a super hot shower after the game for about three hours. Gonna be sweet. Hey! A ball! Whoops! Wasn’t ready for that!” They are definitely headed for an outdoor stadium – most likely in Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, or Green Bay, in that order. And that’s if they can get past the winner of the NFC West. So this year’s Saints had better get used to playing in the cold someway, somehow. Maybe the Vikings will let them use the Minnesota Gophers stadium to practice? Honestly, as a fan, there’d be nothing better than seeing New Orleans beat the Bears at Soldier Field in payback for the 2006 NFC title loss – other than taking this year’s championship from the Falcons in Atlanta.

Despite all that, Brees and Co. nearly came all the way back to win it. They had a chance for another miracle two-minute drill, but the Ravens D stopped them.  Just remember that not everyone has the Ravens D, and in a rematch, I’m positive the Saints would beat these guys – with the same game plan plus Ivory. Funny how much we missed that guy even though he’s really just arrived. Just chalk this loss up as a “sometimes things just don’t go your way” type deal, and let’s hope this game stays fresh in the Saints minds during their upcoming playoff run. At the end of Sunday, nothing had changed. Atlanta kept on pace for the number one NFC seed, and the Saints are still looking at the fifth seed. I still see the Saints as the most feared match-up for any of the teams that make the  tournament. What does Madden have to say about tonight’s game?

Michael Turner is pretty bad ass and a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball. Snelling is an underated backup who is also dangerous. White and Gonzalez are tough to cover one on one, so the key is stopping Turner. With that in mind, I load the box – and Turner runs for a 67 yard TD on the second play. Dammit! Weather the storm, Lee, this ain’t going to be a seven-nothing game. New Orleans responds with a long drive and a 28 yard Shockey TD. ATL goes three and out, then Bush runs in a 4-yard TD.

Bush scores.

 

ATL is stopped again, and Bush has a big return. Meachem grabs a 14-yard TD five plays later.

Meachem makes a tough catch.

 

Another ATL three and out followed by a 29-yard Henderson TD!

Brees rolls out and finds Henderson.

 

Saints up 28-7 in the second quarter. Turner then breaks 18 tackles on another long TD run. Saints go three and out. Could the Falcons climb back into this one?  Not after Jabari Greer picks off Matty Ice for a TD!

Ryan has time and finds … Greer?

 

ATL goes 3 and out in the two minute drill – but not Drew Brees. Saints march sixty yards in three plays and 41 seconds for another Shockey TD.  At half time, it’s already over Saints 42- Falcons 14.  Roddy White scores a meaningless TD late, but it pisses me off. So, with 9 seconds left, I pull the dick move and throw long to Colston. Touchdown, Saaaaaints!

Colston finds the end zone.

 

The lesson here? 1. I’m a dick, 2. Fuck you, Falcons, and 3. Here’s payback for Roddy White going “Aints” this week.

POG Brees goes 15/26, 339 yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT. Turner is 18/175 (better strap it on Saints!), 2 TDs, and 1 Fumble in a Saints 49 – 21 thrashing.

Looking forward to: I know I keep dogging Rex Ryan, but this guy just keeps the hits coming. I can’t wait for him to address this. The guy’s a born entertainer and keeps proving it week after week.

Not looking forward to: Let me ask you this: If the Saints win on Monday night, they’ll have wrapped up the fifth seed and have nothing to play for in their final home game against Tampa. Will Payton rest his starters? I’d guess yes. And that sucks for my Drew Brees-led fantasy football team, Teem Geenyus of the Balls Deep League. The Geenyuses won the Ball Washers divisional playoff over the Liberty Balls, and faces winter of the Dingleberries division, Team Counterpunch, for the title, $300, and most importantly, bragging rights for a year. Really not looking forward to losing this. Maybe Chase Daniel is available on the free agency wire?

Media Prediction: Division winners Bears, Chiefs, NFC West-TBD, will still not taken as seriously as likely wild cards Jets and Ravens. Atlanta/New England Super Bowl hype ends before it starts after Monday night and media focus will turn to the Michael Vick led Eagles. Michael Clayton accidentally messes his pants with excitement when he uses “Michael Vick” and “Matty Ice” in the same sentence.

Madden Tip: Everyone keeps telling me that I shouldn’t play the upcoming Saints match-ups for the prediction. Instead, I should let the computer play the teams because it’s more fair and accurate. But what’s the fun in that? I started playing Madden in part to defy the expectations of the Saints during the lean years. Now that they’re good I’m gonna stop? Screw that!