SAINTS-COWBOYS OBSERVATIONS

The good, bad and ugly from the Saints loss to the Cowboys

Sean Payton had a rough night. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Another Thursday night game for the Saints, no big deal right? WRONG! They lost 13-10 to the Cowboys who are now 7-5 and in control of the lowly NFC East. Here’s how I saw it:

The Good

-The defense came up with pressure and sacked Dak Prescott seven times. Just about every time they blitzed, they came up with a sack or a pressure. On those plays, the coverage was good enough to allow the blitz to get there.

-Sheldon Rankins is having a breakout season. He has seven sacks on the year and is looking more like the guy this team thought he could be. His signature play this game came when he chased down Ezekial Elliot on a draw play for a loss. At 305lbs, that was extremely impressive.

-Cam Jordan is widely recognized as the defense’s best player. But Demario Davis gives him a run for his money. Davis is an all around linebacker that makes plays in every phase of the game.

The Bad

-As good as a coach as Sean Payton has been, he’s had moments in which you question his judgment. Using the two challenges in the first half and not going for the field goal on fourth down on the two yard line were two of the most egregious errors.

-The team had just their 25th punt because of their 15th three and out on the opening drive. Three straight incompletions by Brees, the last one was almost intercepted. He started the game 0 for 4. Too much passing and not enough running to start the game.

-Is it just me, or does Troy Aikman perform verbal sex on the Cowboys every time he broadcasts one of their games? Joe Buck gets in on the act as well. He clearly pulls for them and it gets annoying after a while.

The Ugly

- Eli Apple has been terrible. There’s a reason the former first round pick was traded. He was beat for a 40-yard completion early on that could have gone for a touchdown had he not shoe-string tackled Michael Gallup. He also got called for a couple penalties.

-The 71 game streak of not being shut out in the first half is over. They only gained 59 total yards in the first half. The team looked sloppy and unmotivated. It was as if they kept waiting for something to happen instead of making something happen.

-Sean Payton ultimately cost his team this game with poor play calling and bad challenges too early. His gambling is genius when it works, and crippling when it doesn’t. Piss poor tackling and bad execution aside, Payton was the reason his team lost.

There were a ton of questionable calls made for and against both teams. While the Cowboys played it safe in their gameplan, the Saints chose to gamble a bit too much in theirs. This could possibly cost them homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs if the Rams stay with a one in the loss column. The Saints have some work to do. It starts with praying starting left tackle Terron Armstead is healthy, and head coach Sean Payton decides to stop gambling so much.

 

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The Astros will look to bounce back after a tough week. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

After a 6-3 record to start the season, the Houston Astros had a tumultuous week to say the least. They were swept by the Tigers, lost 2 of 3 games to the Seattle Mariners and placed five players on the COVID injured list.

The Tigers' new manager AJ Hinch returned to Minute Maid Park for the first time since the Astros let him go after the cheating scandal in early 2020.

The Tigers swept the Astros and outscored them 20-8 over their three matchups.

Before the 3rd game of the series, the Astros found out they would be without five players on their active roster. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado and Robel Garcia were all placed on the COVID-19 injury reserved list.

"It's hard on the team but you have to carry on. The show must go on," manager Dusty Baker said. "And it went on today with some younger players we have here."

Garrett Stubbs, Taylor Jones and Abraham Toro were called up as well as Alex De Goti and Ronnie Dawson who made their major league debuts last week.

The Tigers were able to score runs early on Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers and Jake Odorizzi (who made his Astros debut) and none of these starters lasted more than five innings in the outings.

Yuli Gurriel was the one Astros bright spot against the Tigers as he had 7 hits and drove in 2 runs. He is still continuing to hit the ball consistently as he finished the series with a .429 batting average.

After a 1-5 home stand the Astros looked to bounce back on the road against the division leading Seattle Mariners (you read that correctly).

Friday night proved to be the Astros' best offensive performance since their home opener on April 8th against the A's.

They scored five runs on Yusei Kikuchi through 7 innings behind good hitting from Aledmys Diaz, Chas McCormick and De Goti who drove in two runs on his first major league hit.

The Astros had a 5-2 lead at this point, but Seattle was able to score 4 unanswered to win the game.

Bryan Abreu, Blake Taylor and Ryne Stanek were credited with those four runs.

Ryan Pressly tried to clean up the bottom of the 9th inning after Stanek put the first two batters on base. His effort was unsuccessfully as Ty France hit a game-ending single that scored J.P. Crawford from second to secure a Mariners victory.

Saturday was the best game of the week for the Astros as they finally broke their six-game losing streak.

After failing to pitch more than five innings on Monday against the Tigers, Zack Greinke threw eight shutout innings with 91 pitches.

He struck out six batters and gave up only 4 hits.

"That's what aces do," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "Guys like (Greinke) ... they stop the bleeding and we're about bled out."

Greinke finished the game with 2,705 career strikeouts. He is now third amongst active players in strikeouts behind Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

Ryan Pressly got some redemption too as he threw a perfect 9th inning giving him his first save of the year.

The Astros won this game 1-0 as Taylor Jones drove in the game's only run with an RBI single.

Sunday's game ended the Astros week with a whimper, as the Mariners bested Houston 7-2.

Jake Odorizzi got off to a good start, but he gave up three hits and was pulled after Mitch Haniger's fifth-inning triple made it a 3-2 lead over the Astros.

Odorizzi is now (0-2) with a 10.57 ERA after two starts with the Astros.

Houston's offensive woes continued Sunday, as Aledmys Díaz had their only hit, an RBI double in the second inning that fell in when outfielder José Marmolejos lost the ball in the sun.

"It's tough to take when you only got one hit and the one hit we got was lost in the sun," Baker said.

UP NEXT: The Astros (7-8) will finish their road trip with a two game series against the Rockies who have the worst record in the league (4-12) before starting an eight-game homestead.

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