Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saints Sixth Week Review: The Empire State Sweep

Somewhere under one of the end zones in Giants Stadium, Jimmy Hoffa is turning over.
The New Orleans Saints pulled a hat trick, beating three New York state teams in a row. The New York Giants had the best defense in the NFL and a potent offense that had success running the ball.
The game between two of the NFL’s unbeaten teams had major post-season implications as it could determine homefield advantage in the NFC Championship game.
On Sunday afternoon, the Saints established that they were the best team in the NFL by soundly defeating the team many sports analysts had picked as number one in the unofficial power rankings by a score of 48-27. And .believe it or not, the margin is deceptive as the game was never really close with the Giants having to play catch-up early.

What I Liked

OK, just a warning, but this part is kind of long…for good reason.

Heeeeeeeeee’s Baaaaaaaack Number Nine returned to fantasy football fantasy form against the team’s most formidable opponent to date. Brees ended his two game touchdown drought with four against the vaunted Giants defense and completed 78% of his passes for 369 yards. I also enjoyed seeing the league’s most dangerous quarterback run for a first down.

Heeeeeeeee’s Baaaaaaaaack Deux Wide Receiver Lance Moore, in his first real game of the season, contributed in a big way. A favorite Brees target, Moore snagged six passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.

R-r-r-r-r-r-revenge! Tight end Jeremy Shockey did his best to play down his emotions going into a game he had circled since the G-men shipped him off to the Black and Gold. While largely refusing to take the tantalizing bait the media had dangled in front of him to trash a franchise that made him feel persona non grata at the Super Bowl, the former Giant let his actions on the field speak for himself, catching four passes for 37 yards, including one for a touchdown. Shockey couldn’t contain himself doing a “bull riding dance” after his touchdown reception.

Meachem Proves Value As regular readers are aware, I have a personal stake in the success of the third or fourth wide-out, being one of Robert Meachem’s few advocates in the 2007 draft. That rather exclusive club was reduced greatly after he sat out the first season. Meachem caught two passes, one for 36 and the other for 34 yards.

Mr. Reliable Hauls Them In Wide Receiver Marques Colston had an outstanding day making some incredible grabs, including a touchdown, and racking 166 yards. Though he is part of an offense that is a target rich environment, the 7th rounder from Hofstra once again showed that he has the best pair of hands on the team.

The Levee Holds Saints’ offensive line once again gives great protection to Brees, who was not sacked in the game.

Introducing the Chopper Whopper He kicks, he punts, he tackles. Thomas Morstead keeps dishing out blackened crow to those fans that doubted general manger Mickey Loomis’s lucidity in trading up to bag a punter in the 2009 draft. In addition to ably performing his punting duty…and the kickoffs that got tacked to his job board after kicker Garret Hartley was suspended, Morstead made two critical tackles against the Giants’ kick returner. Saints kick returner Courtney Roby had a decent game on special teams, as a defender and as a returner.

Ain’t Dere No Mo’ “What is Sean Payton’s losing streak after a bye week, Alex?”

Raiders Win; Eagles Lose In a match between the franchises with the most violent-prone fans, the hapless Oakland Raiders upset the Philadelphia Eagles. As the Saints have a head-up win and a better record, this game probably won’t matter in the still way off grand scheme of homefield seeding, though it is nice to see a team whose fans are known to be so unruly a jail was installed at Lincoln Financial Field during construction.

Saints “Second Line” Does It Again The most glaring weakness in the Saints defense has become a major strength in the revamped squad. Cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter played well, with the former getting a pick and leading the team in tackles with five. Safety Roman Harper got a sack and forced a fumble. Last but not least, safety Darren Sharper picked off Manning and ran the interception to the end zone only to have it called back due to inside linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s roughing the passer penalty.

What I Didn’t Like

Going for It on Fourth and Goal Yes, I know the benefits it paid against the Jets. Yes, I know that it didn’t blow up in our face thanks again to a great play by our defense, but the game is called FOOTball and kicking is an integral part to it. So far, the Saints have been able to beat the spread and then some but ask the Minnesota Vikings about their close win on Sunday. Field goals can win games. Sometimes taking a risk is the smart move; however, getting points on the board is always a good thing. Our luck is going to run out one game at a most inopportune moment.

Kicking Coverage Aside from Roby and Morstead’s efforts, the Saints gave the Giants great field position despite four of the eight kickoffs went into the end zone. Poor kickoff coverage tempts fate as much as going for it on fourth down.

Worst Advice of the Week
While talking to a friend of mine who had Drew Brees on her fantasy team, I mentioned Brees’s lack of success in getting the ball to the end zone against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets and suggested she start someone else as the Saints quarterback would be facing the stoutest defense to date. I hope she ignored my decidedly unwise counsel.

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