Saints vs Falcons 2: Observations

Good, bad and ugly: The Saints ate Falcon for Thanksgiving dinner

The Saints are an unstoppable force. Michael C Hebert Saints website

The Saints continue to steamroll opponents. They cooked the Falcons for Thankgiving dinner in a 31-10 win for their 10th consecutive win. Here’s my take on how it went down:

The Good

-Drew Brees is known for spreading the love. He threw touchdown passes to four different guys who have a combined five years of experience including this year. Receiver depth isn’t an issue when Brees throws touchdown passes around like Mardi Gras beads. Did I mention all four guys were undrafted?

-The defense stepped up big time. They forced three fumbles and got a pick. Every fumble was forced with the Falcons in the red zone and the pick set up a touchdown to put them up by 21. Those are turnovers I call winning plays because they take points off the board.

-Sheldon Rankins is coming into his own. He’s “Great Value” Aaron Donald when he’s on (and a 1st round bust when he’s not). His inside spin move in the second quarter to pressure Matt Ryan into a sack by Cam Jordan was nasty! The move is something you see defensive ends execute when their first step is outside, but they plant and turn inside before the guard can blink. My fellow nerds who study the game will feel me on this one.

The Bad

-Brees threw only his second pick of the season in the first quarter. What’s worse is the refs missed defensive holding and pass interference on the receiver he was throwing to.

-Backup tight end Dan Arnold dropped a sure touchdown catch on 3rd & 2 from the four yard line in the second quarter. Saints had to settle for a field goal. The 6’6 Arnold is the closest thing Brees has had to Jimmy Graham at the position since Graham was traded to the Seahawks. He has to be a reliable target in the red zone.

-Falcon receivers continue to give Saints defensive backs fits. The pass rush rattled Matt Ryan and got six sacks, but the DBs need to step it up. 377 receiving yards (314 by Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu) given up was a blemish on what was an otherwise good defensive performance.  

The Ugly

-Sean Payton used a timeout early in the third quarter in what most thought was an attempt to get the right play called. Instead, Brees tried to draw the Falcons offsides, failed, and they took the delay of game penalty then punted. If you’re going to call the timeout, run a play dammit!

-Couple times this game the play clock went to zeroes and no flag was thrown. Delay of game could’ve been called on both teams. I bitch about the refs a lot and I acknowledge they have a tough job, but delay of game penalties can be called by any idiot with half-decent eyesight.

-In the Gow Media Pick Em challenge, my NFL pick was the over 60.5 in this game because the Saints have been on a roll. When the Saints played the Bengals, I took the under 53.5 because the weather was supposed to play a factor. I’ll start going oppo of whatever my head says when picking a Saints game.

The Saints are the best team in football. There, I said it. I’ve been hesitant to say so until I saw a more complete performance from the defense on a consistent basis. Their last three games holding opponents under 20 points, causing turnovers, getting sacks, and maintaining their top five rush defense has been just as impressive as their offensive counterparts. This team has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

 

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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