Saints 31, Cardinals 9

Saints vs Cardinals: Good, bad and ugly

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Drew Brees made his return from the thumb injury and helped lead the Saints to a home win over the Cardinals. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Unlike the school in his hometown that passed on him, Drew Brees is back folks! He was 34/43 for 373 yards with three touchdowns and an interception (more on that later). The offense looked like it was running on all cylinders with Brees under center mainly because...

-...Latavius Murray and Michael Thomas ate big! Murray filled in nicely for Alvin Kamara as he totaled 30 touches for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Thomas made sure to welcome back Cardinals' top corner Patrick Peterson back in style by catching every target with Peterson guarding him, including carrying into the endzone for a touchdown. There's a reason he came into the game leading the league in targets, receptions, and receiving yards.

-The defense logged their fifth consecutive game in a row allowing less than 300 total yards of offense. They sacked Kyler Murray three times and completely stiffleed the run game by allowing a paltry 13 yards. This defense is legit. They stepped up in Brees' absence and have continued to play at a high level. Ih this unit keeps it up, I feel sorry for the rest of the NFL. (*That last statement is a complete lie and a fake attempt at sounding like I care.)

The Bad

-Brees took a shot down field to fullback Zach Line while he was double covered and threw a pick. This was one of the plays Brees will take a shot on regardless of what he sees because of his faith in his arm and receivers. If it were Thomas, yes. But the fullback?

-As good as this defense has played, they whiffed a few times on sacking Murray. I know. I know. The kid is as slippery as an eel bathed in Vaseline swimming in lotion, but when you have a free rusher multiple times totally miss on a sack, it's frustrating to watch.

-While Thomas and Murray did their thing, I have the same complaint when Kamara is playing: over-reliance on this duo. What happens when a team keys in on Thomas and Kamara/Murray? I'm fully confident they'll spread the ball around and generate offense, but this will continue to be a worry.

The Ugly

-After he missed a 47-yard field goal on the opening drive, I'm almost convinced Will Lutz has something in his head. A fart on your brain as my grandfather would call it. He's now missed three in the last two games. With the offense back on track and the defense playing lights out, now isn't the time for the kicker to get the yips.

-Twice the defense blew coverages and gave up big plays: once on a flea flicker, the other on one of the previously mentioned plays in which Murray was able to elude a free rusher.

-Yeah...I've got nothing here. No injuries to report this week thank God. Although Erik McCoy went down early, he came back. This team can't afford any injuries. Health is a major concern, but the next man up mentality has proven fruitful.

Beating inferior teams is what good teams do. The Cardinals aren't necessarily a bad team per se, but they aren't on the Saints' level. Towards th eend of the game, both teasms offered up the huma white flags in forms of backup quarterbacks. Teddt Bridgewater got a rousing ovation along with "Teddy! Teddy! Teddy!" chants from the home crowd. There were a few onions being cut here considering the love he was showed after what he's been through and how he led this team to a 5-0 record in Brees' absence. The Saints now get rest week before playing the woeful Falcons. Hopefully, they'll get a few guys back form injury (and P.J. Williams is eligible to return from suspension) and can continue their winning ways.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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