Saints vs Falcons 2: Observations

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

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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The Astros rotation looks like a strength moving forward. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are coming off a much-needed series win over the White Sox, but have a quick turnaround as they host the Orioles on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The 'Stros dropped the first game of the series with Framber Valdez on the mound, but were able to rebound with Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti starting the final two games.

Brown was brilliant once again, and Arrighetti bounced back after a disastrous start against the Tigers over the weekend. Despite all the injures to the Astros staff this season, their young pitchers are stepping up when they need them the most.

Brown has six consecutive quality starts and is beginning to show signs that he can be the top of the rotation pitcher the club always hoped he could develop into.

Arrighetti has stepped in and shown that he belongs in the big leagues, and has provided innings Houston desperately requires with so many pitchers on the injured list.

Speaking of which, with Justin Verlander on the IL, Double A prospect Jake Bloss will make the start for Houston on Friday night. Bloss has quickly progressed through the farm system, having been drafted just a year ago.

We'll see how he performs in his MLB debut, but the club seems to have a lot of quality pitching options moving forward, especially with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers scheduled to return in late July and early August respectively.

And as we look at the Astros rotation moving forward, perhaps they will go back to a six-man rotation during certain stretches in the second half of the season.

Which could prove to be vital to the team's success. As good as Ronel Blanco has been, he's never pitched as many innings as he'll be asked to pitch this year. Same goes for Arrighetti. And let's face it, sending Verlander out to pitch on four days rest consistently at 41 years old doesn't sound like a wise decision. He's already been on the IL twice this year.

While some see Garcia and McCullers as wild cards to help the team this season, Astros GM Dana Brown doesn't see it that way. He told the Astros flagship station this week that he's counting on those guys to make big contributions when they return. And he's counting on their postseason experience should they get there.

Keep in mind, Garcia has a 3.61 career ERA and has been durable outside the Tommy John surgery. And McCullers has always been good, it's just the health that causes concern.

Garcia is also an example of how a player can skip Double A and Triple A and have success right away in the big leagues. Hopefully, Bloss can follow in his footsteps, since he's bypassing Triple A to make his first start.

So what's the short and long-term outlook for the Astros rotation? And should we expect Verlander to return in 2025?

Be sure to watch the video above as we address those questions and much more!

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