Saints vs Bengals: Observations

The good, bad and ugly from the Saints win over the Bengals

Drew Brees is having a monster year. John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Who Dat train kept on rolling Sunday with a convincing win over the Bengals. The final score 51-14 was an embarrassing laugher. Here’s how I saw it:

The Good

-Drew Brees might be having his best year at age 39. He’s leading the league in completion percentage, touchdown to interception ratio, and passer rating. He started the game 14 of 15 for 152 yards and two touchdowns. That one incompletion was a throwaway. He ended the game with as many incompletions (three) as touchdowns. MVP?

-Alvin Kamara has played in 25 games and scored 27 touchdowns in his young career (including two today). That type of production is unheard of. Nobody in the history of the league has averaged a touchdown a game. Highly doubt Kamara can keep this up, but it’s one helluva start.

-The pass rush decided to show up today despite rookie end Marcus Davenport being out with a toe injury. They collected four sacks totaling 24 lost yards. If they can keep the pressure up on opposing quarterbacks, the woeful defensive backfield won’t have to cover as long.  

The Bad

- Benjamin Watson dropped a jump pass for a touchdown from Taysom Hill in the second quarter. This was a waste of a play. Not because Watson dropped it, but because it could’ve been saved for a better time than a regular season game against the Bengals.

-Rookie receiver Tre’Quan Smith played, but didn’t get a single target. Instead, newly promoted off the practice squad rookie Keith Kirkwood had two targets and two receptions for 45 yards. Nothing wrong with Kirkwood getting a shot, but I’d like to see Smith more moving forward given the depth issues at the position.

-The field goal to make it 48-7 in the fourth quarter was completely unnecessary! Signed, The Guy Who Had Under 54 Because Of The Cold Weather Game Played Outdoors.

The Ugly

-Starting left tackle Terron Armstead went to the locker sans pads with an apparent shoulder injury. He pancake blocked a Bengal defender and his shoulder landed awkwardly on the guy. If the blindside protection for Brees is hurt for any period of time, it could be crucial to their chances of making a run.

- The same rush defense that held the Rams and Todd Gurley to 92 yards and a 4.8 average gave up 110 yards and a whopping 6.9 average today. It’s the 6.9 average that bothers me. Had this game been closer, the Bengals would’ve run more than 16 times.

-The game was being broadcast on Fox. Sometime in the third quarter with the game out of hand, they decided to switch the feed to Tampa versus Washington, and I was forced to watch the rest of the game via “alternative means.” In the spirit of The Blitz, I say: Hey Fox, BLEEP that!

Forcing the once division-leading Bengals to eat a 50 burger on the road in the cold was impressive. This was the first time since the 2007 Patriots that a team has scored touchdowns on its first five possessions in consecutive games. The win streak is up to eight games now. At 8-1 and leading the charge league-wide, can this team make a Super Bowl run? Can Brees win his first career MVP award to help cement his legacy? Stay tuned!

 

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The new-look Texans won't get started until September, but the Roughnecks' season is about to begin. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Without much fanfare, or seemingly any, the Houston Roughnecks are preparing for opening night of the XFL 3.0 season just a couple of weeks away.

The Roughnecks will host the Orlando Guardians, 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 at TDECU Stadium on the UH campus. That’s less than a week after the NFL’s Super Bowl.

Before one pass is thrown, one run rushed, or one groin pulled, Las Vegas has set odds for the 2023 XFL season. Our Roughnecks and the Orlandos are tied for the longest odds on the board, +750. The early betting favorite is the St. Louis Battlehawks at +400.

Just a note: if you’re like Cosmo Kramer and think wagering on early-season XFL games is “some sweet action” – well, “you really need help, you need a team of psychiatrists working around the clock, thinking about you” and George Costanza.

Not surprisingly, good seats remain for opening night. Lousy seats, too. And seats in the middle.

If the Houston Texans and the all-mighty NFL couldn’t fill half of NRG Stadium, do the Roughnecks stand a prayer of drawing big crowds to TDECU Stadium?

One thing in the Roughnecks favor: affordable seats for their five home games on the XFL’s 10-game schedule. Season tickets for Roughnecks games start at $110 and go up to $480 at xfl.com. Individual game tickets, available on Ticketmaster, are $24 and higher. Reasonably priced food and drink (I kid because I love), plus an array of team merch will be available, including T-shirts ($25), baseball caps ($28-$34), sweatshirts and sweatpants ($45-$60), and bucket hats ($45).

Of course, nothing sells seats like winning. The Roughnecks were 5-0 and dominating the league last time the XFL played. That was 2020 when Covid-19 cut the season short. That was then …

This is now. Much like the Texans (as of this week), the most recognizable and popular figure on the field will be the head coach. The 2023 Roughnecks will be led by NFL veteran Wade Phillips, who has a lot of history and DNA in Houston. Quarterbacks currently on the roster are Cole McDonald from Hawaii, Kaleb Eleby from Western Michigan and Brandon Silvers from Troy State.

Most of the roster will be new names for Houston fans, although the league is bragging that 255 XFL’ers have been on NFL rosters at some point.

The Roughnecks will compete in the XFL South division along with the Arlington Renegades, Orlando Guardians and San Antonio Brahmas. That’s three out of four teams from Texas. The XFL North is comprised of the D.C. Defenders, Seattle Sea Dragons, St. Louis Battlehawks and Vegas Vipers.

Every XFL game (40 regular season, two playoffs, one championship) will air somewhere across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and FX, plus streaming on ESPN+. As they say, check your local listing to find the Roughnecks.

If you think that the XFL is just “too soon,” hold on until April when the Houston Gamblers take the field for the 2023 USFL season. Although don’t get too excited about attending home games. Houston’s “home” is in Birmingham, Ala. I know, silly.

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