Deke Bellavia

Join Deke and the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert for live, local talk about the Saints, LSU, Pelicans and much more on "Sports Talk!" 

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Deke: Saints must balance offense to beat Lions

New Orleans Saints vs Detroit Lions
Sunday October 19, 2014
Noon Kickoff Ford Field in Detroit


Last week's results: New Orleans was off while the Lions beat the Minnesota Vikings 17-3.

Series History: Saints lead 11-9-1

What they are saying:
Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan on what he did during the bye week to improve the defense:
"We took a long look at about everything. Our situational football's been really poor on defense. So we did that. The lack of sacks, we did go back and look at that. The pressures are up but the sacks are down. But there are a lot of things on the bye week as coaches that you have to look at yourself first. It is scheme first when you look at it, what your players do well, what are they not doing well, so you have to address those and then go forward and get better."

Saints Coach Sean Payton on Lions QB Matthew Stafford
"He has exceptional arm strength. He's a guy that is very confident and you can see that. I think he is a good leader. He gets rid of the ball. He has good size, (and) good pocket awareness. There are plays in each game that I have watched where he is flushed and all of a sudden he has gained four yards. So he can run. I do not know that you would start with saying that he's a scrambler but he has good athleticism and speed. I think with Joe (Lombardi) there (as offensive coordinator) you can see the work that they put in the offseason. You can see a lot of it on film."

The breakdown:
Detroit is hot right now and the Lions are looking to continue to prove that the Lions are a legit player in the NFC North Division. With a 4-2 mark a earlier season win over Green Bay, Detroit has been led by the play of their defense.

The Lions have good front seven and the defense is doing an excellent job of pressuring the quarterback. The Lions will get after Saints QB Drew Brees. New Orleans has to have some balance on offense in this game. If the Saints don't' have balance on offense the Lions will feast on New Orleans.

Simply put the Saints will have to play their best football of the season in order to come home with a win. If the Saints could come out early in the game and rush the football with success that allows Coach Payton the opportunity to open up his playbook.

On offense the Lions have not put up the kind of numbers as they have in the past. The Saints need to come up big getting after the opposing QB. New Orleans does not have a great defensive secondary and the more the pressure their front puts on the QB the better the secondary will play.

Folks it all boils down to the road games when looking at the Saints. New Orleans has been flawless at home under Sean Payton. But the when the Saints are on the road, they have not done well as of late. I look for the Saints to play much better than they have all season long.

Both teams want to run the ball and both teams have good passing QB's. But each of the coaches in this battle will tell you that have to run the football. Whichever team runs the ball better will win this game. I think that the Saints match-up well with the Lions.

To me the key in this game is the play of the big fellows! The Lions have a very good O-Line and the Saints front seven faces another big challenge this weekend in Detroit. I don't really have a feel on this game when it comes to making a pick. I think the Saints can still win the NFC South but I like the Lions to win the game 31-24 over the Saints.
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Deke: SEC Rankings, week eight

For the first time in well, forever, the state of Mississippi is the best when it comes to college football. In round one of the battle of Southern States, Mississippi swept Alabama with the Rebels and Bulldogs earning wins over Alabama and Auburn. Now which regular season bowl will be the biggest? Egg or Iron? If the right things fall into place, both games could be for the SEC West title! LSU got a much needed win, Arkansas may be the best 0-3 SEC Team we've seen in quite some time, Auburn and Mississippi State have the weekend off. And the final leg of the Will Muschamp on-his-way-out 2014 tour could be in its final stages.

This week's big games:

Texas A&M @ Alabama – The Tide almost fell again and their highest paid head coach is 5-3 in his last eight games coached. But looking at the Aggies I don't know if they have enough to go into Bryant Deny and beat the Tide. The next four game stretch is huge for the Tide as they may need to go a perfect 4-0 to keep their SEC Title hopes on the line. Facing the Aggies this week, Vols and Tigers on the road and then Mississippi State at home should let us know how big or not big he 2014 Iron Bowl will be! On the A&M side of things a win over one of the remaining three West Biggies (Alabama, LSU and Auburn) would have to be considered another solid season for A&M. Aggies fans should take note that the majority of this team's offensive stars are freshmen!

Georgia @ Arkansas – Man if if's and but's were candy and nuts, well y'all know the rest. Arkansas could be and probably should be 2-1 in league play. Arkansas has no one to blame but themselves for their loss to A&M and Alabama. A win over the best team in the East would be a benchmark win for a program that looks like it's going in the right direction. But a big win or two is needed to sell the fan base on that last line! I would not be surprised if the Bulldogs sweep Eastern foes and still not get to the SEC Title game. UGA looks like the class of the East but with dates at Arkansas and at home later in the Deep South's oldest rival against Auburn could be the only thing that keeps the Bulldogs from getting back to the ATL!

Missouri @ Florida – This looks like an elimination game in the East between two teams that have been hard to get a feel for this season. Just when I thought that the Tigers would rise above the rest in the East they laid an egg at home against the Bulldogs. Now Missouri faces a must win if they are going to get back to the SEC Title Game in 2014. The Gators need a big win. Beating Missouri would be good. But hell Gators fans can't relate to Missouri. Simply put, Will Muschamp must beat UGA or he's out!

Kentucky @ LSU – The battle of Cats will see either LSU or Kentucky leave the field becoming bowl eligible. That would be a great feat for one program but not nearly enough for the other. Guess which is which. LSU finally gave their fans something to be excited about moving forward other than touting that the Tigers have played 17 freshmen. The next three weeks are set up good for LSU. Two wins in the next three weeks would be huge and in my mind a successful season for Les Miles. Losses to Ole Miss, Alabama and Texas A&M may place the Mad Hatter on the hot seat going into the 2015 season. Give credit to UK Coach Mark Stoops. It's late October and people are still thinking about Wildcats football and not just hoops at the Rupp!

Tennessee @ Ole Miss – It's Homecoming in Oxford and man I can only imagine how pretty the ladies will look on campus this Saturday. Oh the sweet southern smiles, the beautiful HC Court, I digress. The Rebels are a damn good team and a win over the Vols would continue to see Hugh Freeze and the Rebels victory tour. I think we all felt like the Rebels would be better but did anyone think Ole Miss would be this good?
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Deke: NFL Top Ten, week seven

Denver reclaims the top spot! The Silver Stars are shining bright deep in the heart of Texas, the Bolts got a scare from the Silver and Black while the Birds from the City of Brotherly Love were as impressive as their rivals from the NFC East. There are some good teams that are not in this week's top ten but the Colts could change that with a win over the Bengals this weekend. Here's this week's top 10!

1. Denver Broncos (4-1) – Denver looks like an elite team in the AFC once again. But can the White Horses win their own division? Look for Peyton to eclipse another record this weekend as Denver hosts the Gold Rush! All dem records Peyton got sho could use the company of another Lombardi I'm guessing! Last week beat NY Jets 31-17 / this week vs San Francisco.

2. San Diego Chargers (5-1) – The Bolts got a much tougher test against Oakland last week but bottom line is a win is a win. People are already pointing to a showdown with Denver looming soon. But don't overlook the scrappy Chiefs from KC! Last week beat Oakland 31-28 / this week vs Kansas City.

3. Dallas Cowboys (5-1) – They are for real! They are the real deal. And yes this is the most excited Dallas fans have been in a very long time. You think maybe Jerry went back and looked into his old notes and figured out that the best way to build a champion is starting up front on the O-Line? Dallas has the best offensive line in the game. And they beat down the bullies from Seattle. But will #9 shine or shade in the post season? Only time will tell! Last week beat Seattle 30-23 / this week vs NY Giants.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) –The Eagles looked like a legit NFC Title contender last weekend as they dominated a hot Giants team. The Birds of Prey don't need much defense. But when they get some they are hard to beat! Last week beat NY Giants 27-0 / this week BYE.

5. Arizona Cardinals (4-1) – Arizona had a nice bounce back win over the Redskins last weekend. Who would have thought that right now the Cards are the best team in the stout NFC West? Maybe they did huh? Last week beat Washington 30-20/ this week @ Oakland.

6. Seattle Seahawks (3-2) – Seattle got a dose of their own meds last weekend as the Silver Stars out muscled the Seabirds. Seattle is still damn good. But one has to wonder can they get back the Super Game without home field? We may see! Last week lost to Dallas 23-30 / this week @ St. Louis.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-1) –Man Damn! Five quarters and still no winner! Hell there ain't no ties in football. What a waste of time. But just think if that non-loss is the difference in the Bengals winning the AFC North? It could happen you know! Last week tied Carolina 37-37 / this week @ Indianapolis.

8. Green Bay Packers (4-2) – The Packers know as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center they have a chance to win. And the rest of the NFL knows it too! Green Bay is going to be a hard out in the NFC playoffs this January! Last week beat Miami 27-24 / this week vs Carolina.

9. New England Patriots (4-2) – How much more can the Pats handle? Losing LB J. Mayo and RB Steven Ridley hurts bad. But if one team can overcome those kind of losses it's the Hood and his good looking QB. Last week beat Buffalo 37-22 / this week vs NY Jets.

10. Baltimore Ravens (4-2) – Four TD's in the first quarter and five in the first half. Man QB Joe Flacco has the Purple Birds riding high right now. And with the other gimpy birds from the South limping into town, looks like ole Joe could have another monster game this weekend. I'm just saying you know! Last week beat Tampa Bay 48-17 / this week vs Atlanta.
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Deke: CFB Top Ten, week eight

The Egg Bowl Tickets keep getting more and more in demand on Stubhub! The overrated bowl will be played this week, and the game between the Noles and Irish features two talented and issue-plagued QB's. Baylor came up big with a 24 point run while the Tigers and Tide still have everything in front of them. Hey is it me, or would the rest of you like to see this four team playoff. #1 Mississippi State vs #4 Alabama and #2 Ole Miss versus #3 Auburn? Hell oh wait this is going to happen over the next several weeks. And I'd love to see it again, somehow squeezing the Bulldogs of UGA in that SEC title mix as well. You know honestly, the Southeastern Conference could break off into their own post season format and still demand a ton of money. I would!

1. Mississippi State (6-0) – They DESERVE to be ranked #1. Their QB is leaps and bounds better than any other QB in the nation. And this humble program is about to continue to stomp mud holes in other higher society asses! Hell Yes! When you get your ace kicked in Starkvegas everybody knows! Last week beat Auburn 38-23 / this week BYE.

2. Ole Miss Rebels (6-0) – QB Bo Wallace is seeing his stock rise with back to back impressive showings for the Rebels. I personally was more impressed with this weeks win over the Aggies considering what the Rebels had to do. Last week beat Texas A&M / this week vs Tennessee.

3. Florida State (6-0) - The Noles are another sloppy win away from being out of my top five. Out of respect this team is in my current top five. FSU seems to think that they can play when they want to play. The Noles look like a team that is still toasting the last title and not worried about the one they are pursuing. Last week beat Syracuse 38-20 / this week vs Notre Dame.

4. Baylor Bears (6-0) – The Bears went on a hoops-like run in a high scoring game. Closing a game on a 24-0 run is damn impressive. Can you imagine if the Bears and Bulldogs play in the Sugar Bowl? Ah damn, the Dome scoreboard might blow-up! True Dat! Last week beat TCU 61-58 / this week @ West Virginia.

5. Auburn Tigers (5-1) – The Tigers lost but have no reason to worry. With remaining games against the likes of Ole Miss, UGA and Alabama those are three top 8 eights the Tigers still have left to play. Win those and Auburn should be right back in the ATL Mix. Last week lost to Mississippi State 23-38 / this week vs South Carolina.

6. Alabama Crimson Tide (5-1) – The Tide almost had another slip-up. Man it seems like to the Tide Fan Base that Alabama lost. HEY they WON! Sometimes in life things don't always go as planned. Alabama is having some learning issues right now but other former powers in the SEC are too. I'd keep my cool and remain on board with this Alabama team. They will knock off somebody big before it's over with! BET on that! Last week beat Arkansas 14-13 / this week vs Texas A&M.

7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – (6-0) – The Irish are OVERRATED once again! Man if Notre Dame was in the Pac-12 or SEC West they would be at best 3-3 right now. Hey EVERY school in the world wishes they had the clout and power the Church has. That is true! Last week beat North Carolina 50-43 / this week @ Florida State.

8. Georgia Bulldogs (5-1) - The Bulldogs have their own fate in their hands. That fate is not only the SEC East, but also includes the SEC Title and the national title. Hey win out and it will happen. This team and their seemingly under appreciated coach have one of the most stable and consistent programs in the nation. I'm a Mark Richt fan! UGA is pretty damn good too! Last week beat Missouri 34-0 / this week @ Arkansas.

9. Oregon Ducks (5-1) – The Ducks dominated what many thought was the best team out West with a beat down of the Bruins. You score watchers don't let that final margin of victory fool you. The Ducks called off the Ducks on the Little Los Angeles Bears after going up 42-10. In true arrogant JL Mora Fashion he did some window dressing. Hey L.A. get real. There is only one program in town that will ever have and has already been a nation power. Oh it hurt to say it's USC don't it! Now the Ducks are back in good shape. Last beat UCLA 42-28 / this week vs Washington.

10. Oklahoma Sooners (451) – The Sooners beat their rivals and now face a seasons defining stretch with games against the Wildcats and Baylor Bears over the last two weeks. You know when Billy the Kid use to say "I'll make you famous?" That's exactly what happened when the Sooners beat Alabama. That one win made them famous. Now can they build off that? I don't know! Last beat Texas 31-26 / this week vs Kansas State.
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Deke: Tigers showing improvement in win over Florida

I'm human. I mess up. I talk bad, I get too frustrated and I let my emotions get the best of me from time to time. We all know this. But it does bother me sometimes when folks that analyze the LSU Tigers do not do so in a fair way.

Now I'm talking LSU here. But I could take out the Tigers name and put in Alabama, Arkansas and Florida and the title and theme would apply the same to all of those schools.

In 2011, the final week of the regular season had LSU #1, Alabama #2 and Arkansas #3. Alabama has been able to maintain their higher status the most consistently but even the most die hard Tide Fan will tell you that the 2014 version of the Crimson Tide is not as strong. LSU and Florida used to rule the roost. They have both taken steps back and Arkansas looks like they are climbing their way back to respectability.

The past is the past, the future will be coming up, but right now we are in the present. And other than the play of the Dogs and Rebels and sometimes the Bulldogs from Athens, the rest of the SEC is kind of unknown.

When it comes to LSU you have to look at where the Tigers currently are. I think sometimes we get caught up in wins and losses a little too much. Sometimes teams win and look terrible. Sometimes teams win and they look great and then there are the in between times when teams kind of leave us scratching our heads.

LSU has a lot of young players. The Tigers had to replace over 95 percent of their offense from last season. And right now, nearly 90% of the Tigers TD's in 2014 have come on the shoulders of freshmen and sophomore players.

There has to be somewhat of a drop off expected in all fairness due to the fact that the Tigers lost so much on offense. But a drop off and getting physically manhandled are two different things.

My point is that even had LSU lost to Florida, I saw improvement. I saw a team that played hard for four quarters, a team that did not dig themselves a big hole like they did in their first two SEC Games. And I saw a team that learned how to win by any means necessary.

The 2014 Tigers will not blow anyone out. They will not win as many games as teams in the past have. But that does not mean the 2014 Tigers can't be a pretty good club.

If LSU fights hard and plays in a manner that shows growth and steady improvement from game to game. Then those who claim that the future is championship bright will closer to being right than wrong.

2014 tells us that the mighty SEC could send two teams to Atlanta with at least one loss each. And the likelihood of an SEC team being undefeated is not too good. And then there are those teams that are clawing and scratching their way to trying to become a solid more consistent team that competes for the title.

There are five games left in the season with the Tigers holding a 5-2 overall mark. I'm more interested in how the Tigers win games and lose games at this point than I am more concerned how many games the Tigers win or lose. You get it?
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Deke: Where the Saints at, where dey pose to be, where dey goin

It is the bye week for the Black and Gold, and New Orleans is a surprising 2-3 after their first five games of the 2014 season. The Saints lost their first two games of the season on the final play of the game, dropping back to back road games at Atlanta and Cleveland.

"I think if the Saints win 10 games this season that would be a great feat. Considering where the Saints are right now at 2-3, 10 wins would be good to me," said the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert.

The Saints will get some much needed rest this week before a tough stretch with a trip to Motown to face the Lions of Detroit, followed by a Sunday night prime time home date against the Packers. Then on a very short week, the Saints will face Carolina on the road on a Thursday night game.

To me, that stretch is huge, considering that the Saints have two of the next three on the road where they have yet to win a game, then they face a divisional foe on one day's practice in that very same stretch.

Bobby and I talked with former Saints LB Scott Shanle. I asked Scott why he thought the Saints would be able to turn things around this season. "I think when you look at the overall talent level of the Saints you see they have as much talent as any team in the NFL. The talent level, the coaching and the leadership on the team leads me to believe that the Saints will turn things around."

The Saints have had trouble creating turnovers this season. The Saints have forced just two turnovers in five games and the Black and Gold is a dismal minus -8 in the turnover ratio. Coult the Saints be thinking too much about creating turnovers?

"I think so much of the game at any level there is talent everywhere. And you tend to press from time to time in trying to make plays. And when you don't make plays it is frustrating. But you have to keep playing your game and not try to press too much," Shanle said.

So to be real about the Saints, they are supposed to be (according to the national media and me and the Cajun Cannon) 4-1 or 5-0. The Saints are at 2-3. Where the Saints are going? Well if the team does not make the post season, 2014 would be a huge disappointment.

And honestly if the Saints don't go deep in the playoffs this season, that would be just as disappointing. After all the Saints are what many feel is a team of "now" meaning that they are a contender. Or at least that's what we all thought!

The Saints ain't where dey pose to be. We know where dey at. And where dey go from here will determine how good or how bad 2014 will be!
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Deke: SEC rankings, week seven

Hail State! Hotty Toddy! Man oh man what a weekend it was in North Mississippi. First the Bulldogs beat the Aggies into submission, and then over in Oxford the Rebels saved their best for last in a huge win over the Tide. Now two more huge games take place this week for the Rebs and Dogs. I think one will win and one will fall. The Tide are now in a must-win situation at Arkansas, the SEC has a good tilt between Georgia and Missouri and a cross conference match-up features two teams that don't look too good between the Gators and Tigers. And give some love to the UK Wildcats. I ain't talking hoops either! Here goes this week's SEC Rankings.

1. Mississippi State – The play of QB Dak Prescott is incredible. And the front seven of the State defense is the best in the conference right now. A win this week would put the Dogs in the driver's seat in the SEC West. Oh how the ticket takers will be looking the other way when those Starkvegas fans smuggle those loud ass cowbells into Davis Wade Stadium! Last week beat Texas A&M 48-31 / this week vs Auburn.

2. Auburn – The Tigers dismantled LSU and now continue a stretch of ranked foes. Auburn already has a big road win in a tough venue with their win over Kansas State. But there are now loud ass Cowbells in Manhattan. Kansas that is. Last week beat LSU 41-7 / this week @ Mississippi State

3. Ole Miss – Man give it up to Hugh Freeze, Bo Wallace and the Rebels. Ole Miss played their tails off till the final horn sounded. This week is going to be tough. As the Rebels face a team they have never beaten. UPSET ALERT! Last week beat Alabama 23-17 / this week @ Texas A&M.

4. Alabama – The Tide lost on the road and now face another road trip to take on the upstart Hogs. Could Little Nicky drop his second straight? Man could the natives in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge both be claiming a rebuilding year? Possibly! Probably not in Alabama that is! Last week lost to Ole Miss 17-23 / this week @ Arkansas.

5. Missouri – Gary Pinkel is one of the most underrated coaches in the nation. A win this week over the Bulldogs would put the Tigers in the drivers seat to get back to Atlanta for a second straight year. Last week BYE / this week vs Georgia.

6. Texas A&M – Man the Aggies got their Aggies handed to them last week in Starkvegas. Now A&M can bounce back and handle the Rebels once again. I think it will happen. Last week lost to Mississippi State 31-48 / this week vs Ole Miss.

7. Georgia – The Bulldogs control their own fate in the SEC East. But they have to beat Missouri this week. I expect to see a lot and then some more of RB Todd Gurley this week from the UGA Offense. Last week beat Vanderbilt 44-17 / this week @ Missouri.

8. Kentucky – Man these Wildcats are a hair away from being undefeated. I told you earlier this season that this team was not going to be bad. I had no idea they would be good. Honestly! Last week beat South Carolina 45-38 / this week vs UL Monroe.

9. Arkansas – The Hogs had the week off and can now really mess up the SEC with an upset win over Alabama. Alabama has owned the Hogs the last three years. Can the Tide make another route of this game? Last week BYE / this week vs Alabama.

10. South Carolina – The Gamecocks have already lost three SEC Games. Can they get enough help to get back into the mix? I don't think so. Last week lost to Kentucky 45-38 / this week BYE.

11. Florida – The Gators are bad. In fact they are not that good. But they can get their third and perhaps last SEC win of the season this week against LSU. Last week beat Tennessee 10-9 / this week vs LSU

12. LSU – The Tigers look worse than the Gators do. But can LSU win perhaps their only SEC game of the season? Maybe! Last week lost to Auburn 41-7 / this week @ Florida.

13. Tennessee – The Vols had the Gators and let them off the hook. Now another step towards bowl contention takes place with UT-Chattanooga. Last week lost to Florida 9-10 / this week vs UT-Chattanooga.

14. Vanderbilt – The season is halfway over. Hell what else you want me to say about the doors? Last week lost to Georgia 17-44 / this week vs Charleston Southern.
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Deke: NFL Top Ten, week six

Seattle has the most complete team with an incredible QB. Denver is awfully good. And San Diego could very well be the best team in the NFL right now. And Here is my top ten as we enter the sixth week of the 2014 NFL Season.

1. Seattle Seahawks (3-1) – Right now it would be hard to say who the MVP of the league has been through the first quarter of the 2014 season. One player who certainly would be on the list is Seattle QB Russell Wilson. In the game against Denver he willed the Seahawks to a win and in the 27-17 road win over Washington, Wilson gave one of his signature plays that helped his team win again. Seattle is going to be good for a long time. They are to me the only team in he NFL that has a tenacious defense and a superstar QB. Now a home game against 4-1 Dallas looks pretty interesting! Last week beat Washington 27-17/ this week vs Dallas

2. Denver Broncos (3-1) – Another record is near for the great Manning to surpass. Peyton tossed four TD passes in the White Horses big win over the Red Birds. With 503 career TD passes Peyton is closing in on Brett's record of 508. And speaking of records how about WR Demaryius Thomas? DT had eight grabs for a whopping 226 yards and 2TD's. Not bad for an afternoon of work. You know Denver will be in the post season. The Broncos will more than likely be the top seed. And Denver wil probably get back to the Super Bowl. But will they win it? Remember in the history of the NFL there have been maybe two, possibly three teams that were tabbed as Super Bowl win or bust. Denver is one of those! Last week beat Arizona 41-20 / this week @ NY Jets.

3. San Diego Chargers (4-1) – The Chargers are looking more and more like one of the premiere teams in the AFC this season. And don't look now but a 5-1 start is highly likely with a trip to Oaktown this weekend looming! I'm telling you the Bolts are for real. Anytime an NFL team limits another professional team to 151 total yards and keeps them off the scoreboard that is damn hard to do. QB Phillip Rivers is having arguably his best season ever. Don't sleep on this team. Last week beat NY Jets 31-0 / this week @ Oakland.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) –The Eagles got a scare from the Rams and now have a big NFC East battle with those Giants from the Big Apple. You know for a division that was supposed to be garbage the East is pretty damn salty right now. Last week beat St. Louis 34-28 / this week vs NY Giants.

5. Dallas Cowboys (4-1) – Ok it's safe to say that Dallas is a huge surprise so far this season. Now a road win over the Seabirds this week would mean that the Silver Stars are major players in the NFC this season. I ain't lying y'all. Last week beat Houston 20-17OT / this week @ Seattle.

6. Arizona Cardinals (3-1) – Arizona hung tough with Denver before Peyton and the Horses pulled away with a 17-0 run in the final stanza. The Cardinals are OK, but they need to bounce back this week at home against the Redskins. Last week lost Denver 41-20/ this week vs Washington.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) – I don't think the Bengals or any other team with the exception of maybe Seattle that could have handled a ticked off Tom Brady last week. Brady shredded the Bengals and now Cincy has to regroup against a pretty good Carolina team. That loss to NE could come back and haunt the Bengals for home field this post season. Last week lost New England 43-17/ this week vs Carolina.

8. Green Bay Packers (3-2) – The Packers have stormed back into the NFC post season picture with back to back convincing wins. QB Aaron Rodgers is on fire right now and the Cheese Heads are starting to gel. Last week beat Minnesota 42-7 / this week @ Miami.

9. New England Patriots (3-2) – Let's face it, no matter how much you try to avoid things these days, it can't be done. What I'm saying is that Tom had to hear all week long had bad he's looked and if his career is nearing an end in Clam Chowder Land. The smooth operator went to work and tossed two TD passes in a blowout win over the previously unbeaten Bengals. QB Brady, RB Ridley and TE Gronk are as good as a trio in the NFL on offense as any team has. And the hooded wearing coach don't like to be called out either. Hey the best way to respond to stuff you don't like to hear is the way the Patriots did the other night on national TV. Last week beat Cincinnati 43-17 / this week @ Buffalo.

10. Nine 3 and 2 team's (3-2) – Ok in order to make things fun I figured I would mention a handful of teams that are 3-2 after five games. The NY Giants have quietly crept back into contention behind the strong play of QB Eli Maning. San Fran is back to 3-2 and the Buffalo Bills got a 58 yard FG to knock off another 3-2 team Detroit last week in the Motor City. Other 3-2 teams in the mix are Baltimore, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Houston. Right now the NFL looks pretty wide open with no one team just that much better than these handful of 3-2 teams. Or that's what I think anyway!
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Deke: CFB Top Ten, week seven

My countdown to the end begins! The SEC is still the best, the Pac-12 may be the most competitive conference from top to bottom, the Big Ten has no more unbeatens and the ACC has one good team and the rest, well! Here is my top ten for this week!

1. Florida State (5-0) – The Noles could easily get to the four team playoff. Hell, the ACC is weak and the other conferences are beating up on each other. But one slip up and the Noles could be the odd man out. How fitting cause Jameis Winston is kind of odd. To me anyway! Last week beat Wake Forest 43-3/ this week @ Syracuse.

2. Auburn Tigers (5-0) – The Tigers blew out LSU and now head to Starkvegas to take on the red hot Bulldogs. Nick Marshall has been solid so far. A win on the road could put these Tigers in prime position to get back to Atlanta this December. Last week beat LSU 41-7 / this week @ Mississippi State.

3. Mississippi State (5-0) – The best player in the nation plays for the Bulldogs from Starkvegas. QB Dak Prescott would win the Heisman right now today! You know in a "win now and in a win at all cost" world of college football it sure is nice to see at least one SEC school stay the course with their coach. Dan Mullen now has two signature wins in as many weeks. And now he can make it three. Could the Egg Bowl be a play-in game for the four team playoff? Possibly. Last week beat Texas A&M 48-31 / this week vs Auburn.

4. Ole Miss Rebels (5-0) – QB Bo Wallace had his greatest game ever in one of the biggest games in school history. Now Mr. Wallace forever has free looks and mint juleps in the Grove as long as he's alive. HOTTY TODDY! But this week is going to be dangerous! Last week beat Memphis 23-17/ this week @ Texas A&M.

5. Baylor Bears (5-0) – The Bears got a huge outing from RB Shock Linwood. Man that's one bad mutha, shut yo mouth. But I was talking about Shock. And I can dig it. Shock rushed for 148 yards and one score in a big road win over Texas. Now time to gig those Horned Frogs. Last beat Texas 28-7 / this week @ TCU.

6. Alabama Crimson Tide (4-1) – The Tide made mistakes, missed opportunities and lost a game that they usually win. However those Rebels on the other side of the football are pretty damn good. Don't worry
we've not heard the last from the Tide. But no more slip ups! Last week lost to Ole Miss 23-17/ this week @ Arkansas.

7. Notre Dame – (5-0) – The Irish got a big late win over Stanford. Hey Notre Dame is still in a class all by themselves and that class means that if the Irish win out you can bet the house, or should I say the church they will be in the playoffs! Last week beat Stanford 17-14/ this week vs North Carolina.

8. Georgia Bulldogs (4-1) - The Bulldogs once again rode the legs of the best RB in the nation in Todd Gurly. Now the Dogs can reclaim the top spot in the SEC East with a win over the Tigers from Missouri! Last week beat Vanderbilt 44-17 / this week @ Missouri.

9. Oregon Ducks (4-1) – The Ducks got popped again at home again. Now the overrated Ducks have their conference and national playoff hopes on the line this week @ UCLA. Last week lost to Arizona 31-24/ this week @ UCLA.

10. Oklahoma Sooners (4-1) – I could go with Michigan State here I guess but I think the Big XII is much better overall than the Big Ten. Oh well nothing like a beat down of rival Texas to make the Sooners feel better! Last lost to TCU 37-33/ this week @ Texas.
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Deke: LSU is starting from the bottom

When Drake sang "Started from the Bottom" I don't think the the rapper meant what I'm writing about. When it comes to trying to figure out where LSU ranks among the 14 SEC schools in the sport of football, we must avoid the top, not look at the middle and realistically start from the bottom!

There are 14 teams in the SEC hailing from nine different states. Last night I wondered what team LSU is better than, and what state does LSU rank above in the conference as well when it comes to football.

Now I'm not talking about last year, the last five seasons or even the last six games. I'm talking about right now. Who is LSU better than? Well let's make this easy and start at the bottom and not the top. Go ahead and toss out the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Texas and South Carolina. That leaves us with Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky.

Right now I'd say that Arkansas and Kentucky are better than LSU in football. That leaves us with the great state of Florida and Rocky Top Tennessee. We will soon find out if the Tigers are better than Florida and as far as Tennessee, I do think LSU is better than Vanderbilt but maybe right on par or more similar to the Vols of Tennessee. Of course the Tigers can also be better than Kentucky as the two meet later this season in what right now looks like the only probable SEC game LSU will win this season.

So as of October 4th, 2014 I'd say the LSU Tigers are ranked somewhere between 12 and 14 in the SEC. Hey I'm looking at games played in the SEC among SEC Teams. All those padded numbers of non-conference rent-a-win's don't count in my numbers.

LSU has scored four TD's in the SEC and the bread and butter of the Tigers team, which has been their defense and their ability to run the ball, are both horrible. LSU is averaging just 113.5 rush yards in two league games and the Tigers defense has allowed a league worse 37.5 points per game and a massive 568 yards allowed on average as well.

The more I write the more tired and frustrated I become. Folks it is what it is. And right now LSU is not a good football team. Some would say a bad football team in fact. All I know is that with all the so called talent that LSU has recruited over the last four years and with the highest paid coaching staff in America, is the product on the field worth the price being paid to the staff?

Yes they are young, yes they have a lot of freshman playing. But no one, and I mean no one thought that LSU would be this bad. And I don't know how much better LSU can and will get!
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Deke: Only the Saints can save themselves now

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) vs New Orleans Saints (1-3)
Sunday October 5 2014 Noon Kickoff Mercedes-Benz Superdome


Series History: The Saints and Bucs have played a total of 44 times. The Black and Gold have won 27 times, earning their best winning percentage versus an opponent. The Saints swept the Bucs last season with New Orleans having arguably their best performance of the season in a 42-17 win over Tampa last December in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Last week's Results: Dallas beat New Orleans 38-17 and Tampa Bay beat Pittsburgh 27-24

Tampa Bay QB Mike Glennon on the Bucs comeback win over the Steelers:
"It was a real big win for us, the first win of the season, and it puts some more confidence in us. It was a great team win, all three phases of the game played well when we needed to. It was great to get our first win and we know the NFC South is wide open right now."

Tampa Bay Coach Lovie Smith on if he's surprised if the Saints are 1-3 after four games:
"I haven't paid a whole lot of attention. All I thought before last week was for us to get a win. But I know what their record is. It is so early in the season and that's what I've told our football team. People are still jockeying for position and seeing exactly what type of team they'll be. There is plenty of talent on both sides of the football. We know them well and of course they know us well. We'll need to play our best game."

Saints Coach Sean Payton on Tampa Bay bouncing back from a bad loss to Atlanta two weeks ago:
"I think they played real well against a good team on the road. I would say now they have had two quarterbacks so you are looking at the start of the season and Mike (Glennon) obviously played well for them last week. I think the Atlanta game was one that got away and was certainly different then. If you look at their three losses one of them obviously was a big differential but the other two weren't. They played some pretty close games to start the year and just didn't come up on the winning end."

Saints QB Drew Brees on those questioning his arm strength:
"I really don't even know how to respond to it to be honest to you. I don't know what would lead anybody to believe that. Even if that was the case, because I would say at some point maybe your skills, I wouldn't even say skills diminish, I wouldn't even say strength diminishes. The thing that diminishes as you get older is your ability to recover. But again, I don't think there's anything I can't do now that I could do when I was 25 years old. So, I really don't know how to answer the question."

The Tampa Bay Bucs: Numbers don't lie but there are also the numbers within the numbers that to me, sometimes are more revealing. In my own opinion, Tampa Bay is not a bad team. In fact they are much closer to being pretty good than bad. Sure the entire world saw this team fall down 28-0 in the first quarter and eventually lose 56-14 on national TV in Atlanta two weeks ago. But toss out that ugly outing and the Bucs are real close to being 3-1.

Tampa lost to Carolina and St. Louis by a combined seven points. Tampa Bay had a chance to win both of those games but fell 20-14 in week one to the Panthers and then lost to the Rams 19-17 in the second week of the season. Last week the Bucs defense did a number on the Steelers offense. After Pittsburgh gashed the Panthers the week before on the ground, Tampa held the Steelers in check to just 85 yards rushing.

Tampa's win over the Steelers was no fluke as they went toe to toe with Pittsburgh and then rallied for a game winning drive that saw QB Mike Glennon throw a five-yard TD pass to WR Vincent Jackson with just seven ticks left on the clock stunning the Steelers fans inside of Heinz Field last Sunday Afternoon.

So when you look at the Saints and Bucs and toss out the one ugly loss that each team had (Saints 38-17 to Dallas & Atlanta 56-14 over Bucs) you will find that these are two pretty decent teams looking to claw their way back into NFC South contention. Tampa allows 30 points per game on average but again if you take away that 56 point outing against the ATL the Bucs have given up right around 20 points in their other three games on average.

Tampa Bay relies on RB's Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey. Rainey leads Tampa with 199 yards averaging five yards per rush. Rainey had a huge day against the Rams by going for 144 yards on 22 carries. Doug Martin has 23 carries with 49 yards and a TD in two games this season.

Tampa Bay has a very dangerous group of pass catchers. WR's Louis Murphy, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson are potentially one of the best groups in the league and rookie TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins allows the Bucs to have one of those tall rangy TE's that can cause some match-up problems for opposing defenses.

What I think

What I think is just what it reads; it's what I think. And like many of you what I've seen through four games this season has been terribly wrong. I just don't see this being a blowout game between the Saints and the Bucs. I thought going into the 2014 season that the Bucs were the biggest threat to the Saints in the NFC South.

Tampa being 1-3 is not that much of a surprise. But the Saints at 1-3 is much more surprising due to the fact of how the Black and Gold became 1-3. Tampa has looked far more respectable in two close losses with much better play on defense coming from the Bucs compared to the Saints.

New Orleans needs a solid win. A complete game performance that as Coach Payton says is a complimentary game that has good showings from offense, defense and special teams. The Saints have failed to come close to that in four games this season. Now, with another divisional game on the schedule, the time for the Saints to show that the first four games is not who they really are is now!

I mean let's face it, the way Atlanta, Carolina and Tampa Bay have looked this season, the winner of the South might just need nine wins. But New Orleans is a franchise that looks beyond just winning their division. The Saints are a franchise that considers themselves a "right now" type club. And if right now does not begin Sunday than the bigger picture, being the NFC, is going to be one without the Saints in it.

Sure the Saints could lose Sunday to the Bucs and still win the NFC South and host a playoff game. But is that what this team's goal is this season? You don't need me to sit here and write out all these ins and outs of what has to happen in this game. Simply put I think it's now or never for the 2014 Saints.

I said back in August that there was not much to not like about the Saints. Well right now it's hard to pick out something that's really good about the Saints. You see the 1-3 record is one thing. But how the Saints got to be 1-3 is more alarming. On paper this looked like a team that had it all. That was on paper.

On the field where it matters most is where the Saints are lacking. And if New Orleans is going to become the team I thought they would be it will have to be done on the field. I know the Saints are tired of hearing about how bad they look. Hell I'm tired of talking and writing about how bad they look. Only the Saints can change their current status.

To sit here and hash out what the Saints need to do better in order to win is pointless. Right now, the Saints, by their own admission, need to do everything better. Run, pass, block, kick, tackle, cover, yep the Saints need a quick refresher in all phases of the game. But I'm not sure if hitting the refresh button is going to be enough. Maybe the Saints need to shut down reboot. Only problem is you can do that during the season!

10 points is a lot of points to give any team. I think the Saints win but not cover. I think New Orleans 24 Tampa Bay 16
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Deke: Three huge SEC games this weekend

According to some media outlets college football power rankings, all seven SEC West teams (Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, LSU and Arkansas) are among the top 20 teams in the nation. Six of the seven square off in three monster match-ups this weekend. If you love football, great football, well this Saturday could be one to remember. At 11AM you have #14 Mississippi State entertaining #6 Texas A&M. The 2:30PM CBS SEC Game of the week pits #1 Alabama at #11 Ole Miss. And the night cap of monster match-ups has #15 LSU at #5 Auburn.

The winners of these three games will clear one big hurdle. But there are many hurdles left in the last two months of the regular season. To me, the winner of the SEC West Division will have at least one loss this season. Now that may not happen, but if we look at the current make-up of each of these six teams, and perhaps more importantly the make-up of the seventh team, Arkansas, I feel like no team is just that much better than anyone else right now.

Without question, my money would have to be placed on the Alabama Crimson Tide as being the most likely candidate to finish the West without a loss. But even the Tide have question marks as well do the other six teams.

Man I'd love to be at any of these games this weekend. But to me the best game will be Texas A&M and Mississippi State. The game likely to be a blowout is Alabama at Ole Miss. And the game that could be entertaining for a while and then becomes somewhat lopsided is LSU at Auburn.

From a scale of one to ten I'd that the atmosphere in Oxford should be about a 9.5 before 2:35PM. Then after kickoff I don't know how hyped it will be. Here's what I think about these three big games.

Texas A&M @ Mississippi State
Two of the best offensive units will meet in Cowbell Heaven when the Dogs host the Aggies. Aggie QB Kenny Hill is no ordinary freshman and Dogs signal caller Dak Prescot is the best player in the league right now.

Each offense has plenty of playmakers, fire power and guys that can flat out take it the distance. But the biggest concern I have here is the absence of State Center Dillon Day. Day is suspended for the Bulldogs Game for basically kicking a few (that we actually saw on tape, there could be more) LSU players. Ask anyone and they will tell you that the Center is as important to an offense as anyone else other than the QB. Will Day's Absence cost the Bulldogs somewhere in this game?

Factoring that into my breakdown I still like the Bulldogs chances here. Mississippi State has been waiting for this moment to happen ever since Dan Mullen took over. Beating LSU in Death Valley gives MSU more than enough motivation and determination to understand that they can win the SEC West.

To me the difference in this game is the Bulldogs defense. I think that Mississippi's State's front seven on defense is one of the best in the SEC. Now this match-up will be a far greater test than that of the LSU Game, but I like the Bulldogs ability to control the line of scrimmage. Preston Smith is a beast and he's as good as any SEC D-Linemen I've seen so far and keep an eye on the Aggies Freshman Myles Garrett.

Garrett has five sacks which is second in the SEC right now. In a game that features two good offensive units, look for a big defensive play to decide this one.

I was already in the mindset that the Bulldogs would be able to move the ball on the Aggies prior to last week's Arkansas vs Texas A&M Game. That outing reassured my thought process. I think this could be a special season for MSU. Even if they lose here there are plenty of more big games (Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss) for the Bulldogs to play. But a win over the Aggies would then allow the Bulldogs to pull for A&M to knock off one the others in the West which would in turn make those Starkvegas Crazies Shake dem Cowbells a little harder! Go Dogs Go!

Alabama @ Ole Miss
Ok something is wrong here. Alabama has dominated Ole Miss as of late but yet the odds makers only have the Tide as a six point favorite over the Rebels. Man that looks like a sucker bet. I mean I'd bet a bundle on the Tide.

With that said how will Bama QB Blake Sims hold up on the road in the SEC. Better yet can Rebels QB Bo Wallace play decent? The team that gets the best QB play will more than likely win this game.
I think that the Rebels Defense is for real. But Alabama can do things in the passing game this year that they have not been able to do well maybe ever! Alabama has been able to go deep many, many years, but QB Blake Sims has the ability to extend plays and make the dangerous Tide WR's including Amari Cooper almost unstoppable.

I think the Tide will roll in this game rather easily but I'm kind of pulling for the Rebels to win. I've got prime tickets to the Egg Bowl this November and I would love nothing more than to see the SEC West title on the line when the Rebels and Dogs get it on! We shall see. I'm taking the Tide. Hell it ain't often you're going to get Alabama with this low of a spread.

LSU @ Auburn
Ok it's Tigers versus Tigers. Both teams have a lot of talent but one team has far more experience. To go with LSU in this game would be a pick of the heart. A true freshman QB on the road against a veteran team in a hostile environment is a lot to overcome.

And the LSU defense was gashed against Wisconsin and Mississippi State. At worst, the Auburn Tigers will be able to run the ball with a lot of success against LSU. We know that Les Miles has made the decision to go with freshman QB Brandon Harris because Harris gives the Tigers the best chance to win.

Well LSU is lacking a spark on defense. It's time John Chavis goes with Kendall Beckwith and maybe Beckwith's athleticism will be the spark the Tigers need to get some bite back in their defense.
Speaking of defense, like in the State and A&M Game I'm going with the home team here due to their defense. Auburn gave up a lot of yards against Arkansas, but the Tigers hunkered down in the second half of that game and shutout the Hogs. And Auburn did well on defense on the road at Kansas State.

Auburn's Defense should be able to force the Tigers Offense into some uncomfortable down and distance situations in the game. This game is a battle of the most overrated O-Lines in the SEC and maybe the nation right now. Auburn has been banged up some and LSU has not lived up to what their own coach said about how could they could be. If LSU is to win on the road their O-Line will have to dominate and that's something that they have not done this season against a quality team.

I say lay the eight and go with the Tigers. The Auburn Tigers that is!
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Deke: Losing Byrd hurts Saints in more ways than one!

Nowadays it's like you have to give a PSA before you write or say something. There is always someone, somewhere that will misinterpret or misquote you. With that said, let me say that Jairus Byrd is a nice guy. I've only met him briefly one time but he was very nice and excited to have signed a long term $54 million dollar deal with the Saints this past spring. Now for my take. Not having the safety that led the league in pick-offs from that position since 2009 is a big blow to the Black and Gold.

And the way that Byrd was playing was disappointing at best. Was his most recent injury a cause of Byrd not playing well? No! According to Coach Sean Payton, Byrd was injured this week at practice and required surgery.

When you factor in the time that Byrd missed this off season and the time he was not on the field in training camp, the Saints have paid big bucks for a little over six weeks of service.

Byrd did not get into the rhythm of training camp until the third week and now he is out for the remainder of the season with a torn meniscus. The loss of Byrd is huge and by the looks of the way the Saints defense was playing, it makes things look like the defense has played not too good!

The six-year $54 million dollar deal that Byrd inked is now down to five years because he's done for the 2014 season. New Orleans shelled out the big bucks to Byrd thinking that he was the missing piece to a puzzle that was near complete.

But Byrd did not play like the Saints had hoped in the first four games of the season. Byrd was expected to be the guy that helped the Saints force and create more turnovers. That did not happen.

New Orleans now enters the fifth week of the 2014 season with a surprising and disappointing 1-3 record and they do so without one of their highest paid players.

Was Byrd about to get into a streak and create turnovers like he did when he was with the Buffalo Bills? Sadly we won't know the answer to that question until sometime in 2015.

And on the flip side, what if the Saints secondary begins to make plays and force more turnovers? Will it be because someone stepped up in Byrd's absence? Or will it be because that person just flat out plays better than Byrd did if the latter happens to occur?

Bottom line, this latest blow to the Saints hurts in more ways than one. And only time will tell if the Saints really miss Byrd. And if they don't, then that $54 million dollar deal will not look as good as it once did!
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Deke: NFL Top Ten, week five

As we enter the fifth week of the season, two pre-season powers are down and almost out! Will the Pats and Who Dats re-emerge among the NFL's elite? A showdown in the mountains has the Red Birds and White Horses squaring off and the Bengals can continue to prove that this is their year. The Silver Stars are back in my top ten for the first time in three years and there are two teams from the Lone Star State in this week's top 10. Take a look, my people.

1. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) – The Seahawks are well rested and now head to D.C. to take on the Redskins. Can I still write that? Look for Russell and the Seabirds to roll over Washington. Last week BYE / this week vs Washington

2. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) – The best start in eight years now puts the Bengals in a huge SNF game at New England. I think the Bengals handle their business on the road. I think so! Last week BYE / this week @ New England.

3. Denver Broncos (2-1) –Denver now faces another physical team from the NFC West. Peyton and company could have a tough time with the Cardinals this weekend. Last week BYE / this week vs Arizona.

4. Arizona Cardinals (3-0) – The Red Birds had a nice week to get some R&R. Now a huge game takes place in the Mile High City. Could this be a preview of the Super Bowl? Hell maybe it is! Last week BYE / this week @ Denver.

5. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) – Baltimore beat down Carolina and savvy veteran WR Steve Smith Sr. had his way with his former team. Don't you love it when teams get rid of players because they are too old? And then that player burns the hell out of his former team? LOVE IT! Last week beat Carolina 38-10/ this week @ Indianapolis.

6. San Diego Chargers (3-1) – The Bolts are a legit threat to Denver in the AFC West. QB Phillip Rivers may be one of the most overlooked QB's ever! Last week beat Jacksonville 22-10 / this week vs Jets.

7. Detroit Lions (3-1) – The Lions look like they are going to hang around a while in the NFC North. Can you say defense? Yes the Lions from Motown play damn good defense and that is why they will hang around! Last week beat NY Jets 24-17 / this week vs Buffalo.

8. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) – Philly got a pick six, punt return for a score and still lost. Don't fret the St. Louis Lambs come to the City of Brotherly Love this weekend to help the Eagles feel better! Last week lost to San Francisco 26-21 / this week vs St Louis.

9. Dallas Cowboys (3-1) – How bout dem Cowboys? The first time in three years Dallas has made my top 10. Who knows maybe Dallas will make the playoffs this season and Jason G can keep his job. Last week beat New Orleans 38-17 / this week vs Houston.

10. Houston Texans (3-1) – The Texans are ok on offense and they have the best defender in the game today in JJ Watt. Now a good ole fashion Lone Star shoot out takes place this week in Big D! Last week beat Buffalo 23-17 / this week @ Houston.
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