Every-Thing Sports

Saints vs Jags: Good, bad & ugly

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No Drew Brees, no problem for the fourth game in a row to improve to 5-1in an ugly defensive battle against the Jags 13-6. Here are my observations:

The Good

-The defense held it down yet again. At halftime, the Jags had only 110 yards of offense and ended the game with 226. This was the third game in a row allowing less than 300 total yards. Defensive stars Cam Jordan (two sacks) and Marshon Lattimore (an interception) led the way.

-Teddy Bridgewater completed 67% of his passes against the Jags. His poise in the pocket allowed him to remain calm and hit open receivers. No wonder teams wanted him to come in to potentially start for them this past offseason. This stretch proves he still has what it takes to be a starter in this league.

-Eight of Bridgewater's completions went to Michael Thomas. He hauled in those passs for a total of 89 yards, but didn't score a touchdown. However, he was open or made a play on the ball every time Bridgewater needed him. How he was so wide open on several instances is beyond me.

The Bad

-Bridgewater was pretty inaccurate today. While he had a decent completion percentage, he sailed quite a few balls. Luckily, they weren't intercepted. These throws are the ones that typically get tipped and/or picked off and can change a game, especially one played this close.

-Alvin Kamara was held in check. He totaled 18 touches for 66 yards and failed to score. Kamara is the X-Factor on offense for the Saints. His struggles coincided with the team's low output. It's a wonder they won despite the Jags doing such a good job holding him down.

-Speaking of low output, the offense averaged a paltry five yards per play. The Jags defense is stout, but it's aso susceptible to being beat. The Saints offense did just enough to win, but these type of performances aren't going to cut it against a team that has a better offense on the days the defense can't bail them out.

The Ugly

-No touchdowns scored in the first three quarters of play. Both defenses came to play. While I happen to like defensive games, it's the offenses that sell tickets and creates interest outside of the football faithful. It took until the 11:49 mark of the 4th quarter before ther Saints scored on a Bridgewater touchdown pass to Jared Cook.

-Going 5/13 on 3rd down conversions is a recipe for disaster. That's 38% for the mathematically challenged. Again, if the defense isn't able to bail the offense out by playing shut down ball, the offense will have to step it up.

-Demario Davis laid out Jags tight end Geoff Swaim in the 4th quarter. He was flagged for unnecessary roughness as the hit was to Swaim's head. Thankfully he was able to walk off the field, but stayed down a little while. Davis immediately took his helmet off and kneeled down as he's known for being a good sport and surely didn't mean to potentially injure Swaim.

The Jags are always a tough opponent, provided they're playing with their heads on their shoulders and not up their asses. Fortunately for the Saints, they played just a bit better than the Jags did, but not by much. I happen to enjoy games like this because I appreciate good defense. Some of you would disagree, and that's OK. Up next are the Bears, in Chicago. I fully expect another defensive struggle. If they can survive next week, the bye week comes and Brees should be back the week after. This may be the best team in the NFL right now all things considered.

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Houston needs a win to advance

ALWC Game 2 Preview: Astros vs. Twins

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It took all nine innings, but the Astros rallied late and took Game 1 by a score of 4-1 and are in the driver's seat in this best-of-three series. They'll return to Target Field, home of the Twins, on Wednesday afternoon to try and get the win and advance to the ALDS. Here's what you need to know about Game 2:

Game Facts

When: Wednesday, 12:08 PM Central

Where: Target Field - Minneapolis, Minnesota

TV: ESPN 2

Streaming: ESPN App

Pitching Matchup: Jose Urquidy+ vs. José Berríos.

Series: HOU leads 1-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central) Location Pitching Matchup
Game 1 Astros 4, Twins 1 Target Field, Minneapolis Greinke vs. Maeda
Game 2 Wed 9/30, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis Urquidy+ vs. Berríos
Game 3* Thu 10/1, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis McCullers Jr.+ vs. Pineda+

* If necessary.
+ Projected starters.

Game Storylines

Houston's offense has to get going earlier

The Twins' error in the ninth inning in Game 1 was a gift for the Astros that they were able to take advantage of and score the winning runs. It's unlikely to be handed another chance like that in the postseason, so in Game 2, it's paramount that Houston creates their own opportunities at the plate.

The good news is, every batter in the lineup was able to reach base in the first game, either by hit or walk. However, they would go 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine on base during the game. Because they can't expect to have two pitchers to combine for a one-run game on Wednesday, they will have to carry over the momentum from the end of Game 1 into Game 2 to build a lead their bullpen can carry.

Trust your arms to navigate through

Whether it's Jose Urquidy, who is the likely candidate, or anyone else who ends up starting Wednesday's game, the Astros have to be prepared to have a longer stretch of innings filled by their bullpen. Despite his struggles to end the regular season, Greinke did well only to allow one run to the Twins over his four innings in Game 1.

You should expect a similar outcome in Game 2, where hopefully your starter can hold the Twins at bay for as long as they can before needing to make the change to relievers. It will be interesting to see how Dusty Baker plays that situation, mostly dependent on the score at the time, as he could have someone like Cristian Javier come in for multiple innings. The only thing the Astros shouldn't do is fire too many of their bullets and put their chances in a potential Game 3 at risk.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

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