SAINTS-EAGLES GOOD, BAD AND UGLY

Saints serve up another 40-burger combo meal in blowout win

Drew Brees and the Saints are rolling. Michael C Hebert/Saints team site

Saints train continues with a 48-7 win against the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles. This game was a laugher since the first quarter. Here’s how I saw it play out:

The Good

-The Saints offense scored 17 points on its first three possessions. They lead the Eagles in total yards 190 to 15 after the first quarter. The Saints offense reminds me of Forrest Gump when he decides to start running.

-With all the attention paid to Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram is sometimes not as looked at as a weapon in this offense. He totaled 103 rushing yards and two touchdowns. People tend to forget Ingram was a 1,000 yard rusher before the Saints drafted Kamara.

- Seven different Saints caught passes from Drew Brees against the Eagles. But rookie receiver Tre’Quan Smith had his breakout game today with 157 yards on 10 catches and a touchdown. Drew Brees has shown he can go to anybody in a Saints jersey and make them a star. Smith reminds me lot of All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas.

The Bad

-Every so often, the Saints will have a brain fart on offense. It happened in the second quarter after an eight yard gain on first down. They got called for a delay of game which made it 2nd & 7. Stuff like this can be a problem when it comes playoff time.

-Eagles rookie running back Josh Adams ran for 53 yards on seven carries and a touchdown. Had he not gotten banged up, and the Eagles been able to stop the Saints, he likely would’ve gone for 100 plus yards on the league’s best run defense.

-Eagles fans were too loud in the Superdome for my liking following Corey Clements’ kick return after the Saints field goal early in first quarter. This was my mood watching and hearing that.

The Ugly

-The penalty against Eagles safety Corey Moore on Saints receiver Tre’Quan Smith seconds before halftime was another example of over-refereeing. Graham went in for a hit as Smith caught a touchdown pass. When Smith crouched after the catch, it appeared as if Graham hit him in the head. Defenseless receiver penalty because of slight accidental contact to the head should ALWAYS be reviewed! It’s football dammit!

-Eagles starting center Jason Kelce went down with an elbow injury in the first quarter. His absence showed on a sack by Sheldon Rankins and a bad snap that led to an incompletion on a third down. Hate to see an All-Pro go down.

-The Saints ended the game with a couple subs on their offensive line. While it may have just been to give guys rest ahead of their Thanksgiving Day showdown with the Falcons, it is concerning; especially given the fact that they have had starters along the line out at one point or another.

When the season started, this was a game that could’ve tested either team’s stake to the claim of NFC supremacy. Instead, it ended up being yet another 40 burger this Saints has served up this year, their sixth such game this season. When their defense plays this well, the run game is on smash mode, Brees will always do his thing, this team is hard to stop. Not ready to call them NFC favorites to reach the Super Bowl yet, but they’re getting close to me saying so.

 

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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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