Saints 33, Seahawks 27

Saints vs Seahawks: Good, bad and ugly

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The Saints went up to Seattle and came out with an impressive victory in Teddy Bridgewater's first start since the Drew Brees thumb injury. Here's what I observed in the 33-27 win over the Seahawks:

The Good

-Sean Payton's faith in Deonte Harris paid off when Harris returned a punt 53 yards for a touchdown after the defense forced a three and out. Payton is on record as saying he thinks the 5'6 170lb dynamo can one day become the league's best return guy. (This was the first punt return for touchdown in the league this year.)

-The refs let a potential fumble return for a touchdown play out this week! Eli Apple punched the ball free from Chris Carson, Vonn Bell picked it up and ran it in. The refs held their whistle, let it play out, and confirmed the call after a short review. Game changer because either the Seahawks worked their way up to 31 yard line after a punt was downed on the 4, or the Saints take a lead in a 7-7 game on the road mid way through the 2nd quarter.

-Alvin Kamara is arguably the best weapon Payton has ever had outside of Brees. He can do anything on the offensive side of the ball except pass. He rates as a plus runner, reciever, blocker, and return guy. 152 total yards and two touchdowns against on of the better defenses in the league is a testament to his abilities.

The Bad

-Noise and not focusing on details cost the Saints a 3rd down conversion in the 1st quarter. That led to a missed 3rd&13, a punt, a short field for the Seahawks and their first touchdown. 11 penalties for 70 yards is a good way to lose a road game.

-Michael Thomas got his first target at the 1:54 mark in the 2nd quarter, just after the two minute warning. Thats a long time to go before even getting a target for one of the best recievers in the league. One would think he'd get targeted just as much with Bridgewater instead of Brees.

-The Saints had a -21 yards rushing differential this game. Rushing yards differential is a good way to determine who normally wins/loses a game. You can't rely on the other team to make mistakes or lean too heavily on the pass and think you're going to win very many games, much less contend for a Super Bowl.

The Ugly

-The 1st quarter ended with more penalties (4) than 1st downs (1). This has been a constant struggle for the Saints so far this season. Penalties are drive killers on offense, and drive extenders on defense. Either way, it has to stop because the team is already fighting uphill for the next few weeks at least.

-The defense again ngave up over 400 yards of offense (515 to be exact). With Brees out, the defense will have to step up even more. This unit has the talent, yet they end up looking less than stellar again. Something has to be done. Dennis Allen's seat neds to be warming up if this doesn't get fixed.

-The Seattle rain was unrelenting. Players slipped and slided throughout the game. No one was surefooted. Carson lost a fumble and Bridgewater couldn't gain a handle on the ball on a 3rd&Goal from the about two feet out. Harris even muffed a punt that the Seahawks recovered. May have also played a factor in Lutz missing an extra point and field goal (even though the missed field goal was null and void due to a Seahawk penalty).

I was not expecting this type of win. Honestly, I wasn't expecting a win at all. Special shout out to punter Thomas Morestead who regularly put the Seahawks in less than favorable field position. Bridgewater completed 70% of his passes in a Brees-like performance. He still holds onto the ball too long and often appears unsure of what to do, but he looked more comfortable this week. Next week, they face the 3-0 Dallas Cowboys in what will be a real challenge for both teams. The Cowboys have faced cream puffs to start their season and the Saints will have a hard time containing the Cowboy's explosive offense. Sunday Night Football will be rocking in the Superdome!

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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