Saints 31, Cardinals 9

Saints vs Cardinals: Good, bad and ugly

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

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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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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