Deke Bellavia

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Deke's SEC rankings, week six

Here are my rankings as we go into another week of great SEC football!

1. Alabama (4-1) - RTR! The most impressive win this season by any team in any conference thus far. Don't call them out until they are out! Last week beat Georgia 38-10 / this week vs Arkansas

2. LSU (4-0) - Every team plays badly sometimes. LSU knows there is one hurdle in October (Florida )and three in November with Alabama, Ole Miss and A&M. Long way to go. Last week beat Eastern Michigan 44-22 /this week @ South Carolina

3. Florida (5-0) - Welcome to the SEC Title race, UF! These Gators bite hard on defense, they can run the football well and they are getting better each week. Two tough road games this week and next will give us a better sign if these Gators are for real. Last week beat Ole Miss 38-10 / this week @ Missouri

4. Ole Miss (4-1) - I told y'all Ole Miss would lose a game. And I'm telling y'all Ole Miss will lose again. It's not that hard to predict! Last week lost to Florida 10-38 / this week vs New Mexico State.

5. Texas A&M (5-0) - The Aggies defense is better and now A&M has a week off before the Tide come to College Station. Win that one and then I'll believe you're real! Last week beat Mississippi State 30-17 / this week BYE

6. Georgia (4-1) - Did y'all really think UGA was ready to take on Alabama? HELL NO! Hey, Georgia is good but Alabama is on a different level. Last week lost to Alabama 10-38 / this week @ Tennessee.

7. Kentucky (4-1) - The Wildcats got a scare from Eastern Kentucky last week. Now the Wildcats are off before Auburn comes to town. A bowl bid will happen, but a being a threat in the East is a bit of a stretch. Last week beat EKU 34-27 / this week BYE.

8. Missouri (4-1) - The Tigers beat up South Carolina 24-10 and can now prove that they will not give up their East title without a fight. Last week beat SC 24-10 / this week vs Florida.

9. Arkansas (2-3) - They inked one out against the Vols and now head to T-Town to battle the Tide. Uh oh! Last week beat Tennessee 24-20 / this week @ Alabama.

10. Mississippi State (3-2) - A tough loss to the Aggies in which they did not play badly took place last week. The Bulldogs should lick their wounds the next two weeks with non-SEC Games. Last week lost to Texas A&M 17-30 / this week vs Troy.

11. Tennessee (2-3) - The Vols are learning that close calls only count in Horseshoes and Cigars. And neither have anything to do with football. Last week lost to Arkansas 24-20 / this week vs Georgia.

12. South Carolina (2-3) - Is this team really that bad? Well a win over a highly ranked LSU team could make their season. Last week lost to Missouri 10-24 / this week vs LSU.

13. Auburn (3-2) - The Tigers rebounded last week against San Jose. Now the Tigers have a week off to fix some things before the second half of the season begins.

14. Vanderbilt (2-3) - A non-SEC win over Middle Tennessee was difficult, but it did happen. Now the 'Dores catch a week off before they can figure out if they can muster up another win.
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Deke: Halfway through '15, early season surprises in college football

You can always tell someone's depth of knowledge of college football when you talk across the board. Is that person blind outside of SEC country? Does that particular someone have an un-biased opinion? Are they really being fair or slanting their take towards the Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12? Well, I'm quite sure that I'm labeled something out there, but I'd like to think that I'm as fair as the next guy!

So as we enter the halfway point of the season here are a few things that I've found interesting about college football in 2015.

1. Don't call anything yet!
Ohio State looks SUPER! Alabama is done! Ole Miss is the best! Michigan State has the best win of the season thus far! The ACC is weak! You get the point don't you?

Truth is, all of the chatter don't amount to a hill of beans right now. What might have looked like a great and impressive win (Michigan State over Oregon) and what might have been a sign of the end is near (Ole Miss beating Alabama) all turns on a dime without notice.

For example, Michigan State's so called most impressive win came against an Oregon team that gave up 62 points at home in a loss to Utah, and Alabama getting beat at home by Ole Miss turned in less than two weeks when the Tide picked up the most impressive win of the season so far dominating Georgia 38-10. In other words, just be quiet, watch as much as you can, and everything will play itself out!

2. Are they for real?
To me, the so-called favorites in some of the power five leagues are not the best team's in their conferences right now! In the Big Ten, sure Ohio State has more talent at QB than any other three teams in America, and they are the defending national champs - but tell me, who's looked more impressive in the Big Ten than Northwestern and Michigan?

Now to those "know it alls" out there, many of you will diss me and call me a fool and throw your own opinion higher above mine - but I've got proven wins on my side. Did you know other than their 24-17 week one loss to undefeated and top 10 ranked Utah that the Wolverines from Michigan have allowed just 14 points and are coming off back to back shutouts? No other team in the nation can say that, and if you think I'm ignorant, do you know who was the fourth highest bet on team to make the national playoffs? Yup it's BIG BLUE! And what about the buzz right outside the Windy City of Chicago? Now I'm not talking about the Cubs! I'm talking about Northwestern University.

If you love defense, then you'll want to watch the Michigan vs NW game this weekend in the Big House! Northwestern has allowed only 44 points this season with an average allowed of only nine points per game. They are 5-0 with an impressive week one win over Pac-12 power Stanford. And Michigan has given up a total of 31 points (6.2 points per game) and their only loss was to Utah. Michigan has the next two weeks at home and back to back wins over Northwestern and Michigan State would sky rocket the Big Blue Boys from the Big House well into the Top 10.

Clemson always gets off to a good start and then plays Georgia Tech. These Tigers are salty on defense and this week have a chance to prove their worth against the Yellow Jackets. Clemson could be the only hope for the ACC to make the four team playoff this season!

Ole Miss has one big win, as they did a year ago. But is that enough? Sure, their road win over the Tide will carry them a long way, but after being blown out on the road at Florida and big games left against Auburn, A&M, LSU and the Egg Bowl I find it hard to think the Rebs will not lose at least one more game!

3. Are they a fraud?
Michigan State plays good defense but they have one quality win, and thank God that rival Michigan is off to a hot start. If Sparty runs the table, they are worthy. If they don't, I'm not sure they will get into the final four.

Florida State has lost one game in two seasons and again this year, people like me question if this team is legit or are they just the best in a weak league? The masses believe the latter of the two and with a weak schedule remaining, the Noles may need rival Florida to be ranked in the top five when they meet later this season!

With the state of Texas out of the hands of the flagship Texas Longhorns, are Baylor and TCU the best teams in the Big 12? The Sooners from Oklahoma may have a say so. OU has a big road win over a decent Tennessee Team and with the other league powers still left to play, the Sooners could prove that the hype about them last year was no fluke, it was just a year too soon!

The Utah Utes are rolling right now and have two quality wins to their credit, beating Michigan and Oregon. But not many are agreeing with me that this team is that good! The next three games against Cal, Arizona State and USC will prove if Utah is for real or not!

4. Who's Heisman is it?
Right now, the name Leonard Fournette is all over the Heisman Trophy. Fournette still has so many huge games to play in and those can enhance his shot or help others get close to him. Should LF do well against Florida, Alabama, Ole Miss and A&M then he should be handed the trophy regardless of what anyone else does.

But for the fun of it, keep a close eye on TCU QB Trevonne Boykin and Ohio State TB Ezekiel Elliot - both of these play makers are the heart and soul of their top ranked teams and they are for real and worth the hype!

5. My favorite 5 teams right now
Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan and Utah

6. The teams I love but are worried about
Ole Miss, Stanford, Florida, Baylor and Florida State

7. Teams that are a little on the overrated side
UCLA, Michigan State, Clemson, Georgia and USC
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Deke: Good, bad and ugly from Saints vs Dallas

Well folks, the Saints needed a win and they got it. With the way the NFC South is looking, I think the next two games will determine the rest of the season, but first let's look back at Sunday against Dallas.

The Good!
The Saints won, and that's the best thing this week. Now they need to string a few wins together if they plan on being in the mix this season. The defense was very good on third downs - Dallas finished the game 3-of-12 on third down conversions, including just 1-for-5 in the second half. The Saints defense got off the field when they needed to most. Generally, the team got off to a much better start in this game and finished the up strong.

The Bad!
The Saints clock management towards the end of the game was questionable, at the very least. New Orleans got the ball with a TD lead up 20-13 with 4:24 left in the game. The Saints threw two passes and Mark Ingram ran out of bounds, taking only 12 seconds off the clock. The Saints could have taken at least another minute off the clock and put more pressure on an already nervous Brandon Weeden, but they did not. Weeden led his team down the field for a game-tying TD!

The Ugly!
Looking up in the NFC South division, the Saints are happy to get a win but this team is in a serious hole behind 4-0 Carolina and 4-0 Atlanta. The Saints are going to have to go on a few three to four game win streaks this season in order to have any chance at all to make some noise in the NFC South this season.

Helmet Stickers!
Let's give out some helmet stickers to some of the top players. The Saints best defensive players so far this season are all players that were not on the team last year. Rookies Hau'oli Kikaha and Stephone Anthony led the Saints in tackles and fellow rookie Damian Swann had another good showing as well. RB CJ Spiller came up with the biggest play of the season and RB Mark Ingram totaled 128 yards on 23 touches in the Saints big win.

Up Next!
The Saints head to the City of Brotherly Love to take on a struggling Eagles team in Philadelphia. New Orleans really needs this win in order to get the fans back on board and believing again. The season, to me, is on the line here. I think the Saints need to beat Philly and set up a Thursday night showdown with Atlanta. If the Saints come home 2-3 with a shot to get to five hundred with the Falcons coming to town, it would bode well and set up a big, meaningful game - something that the Superdome has not had in a while!
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Deke's college football top ten, week six

Please shut up when it comes to putting Alabama out of the playoff talks. The Tide still have the best CFB program in the nation and they are still by far the best overall team in the SEC! Until someone else proves it, tough! Ohio State got a scare, Michigan State is overrated and Ole Miss found out that it's a long season, and one quality win won't get you to the playoffs! Folks, let all the pundits do all the week to week garbage talking when it comes to national playoffs. In the end, the best four teams will rise to the top!

1. Ohio State - They're #1 because they finished the season that way a year ago, and I live by the rule - until the champ is beat they are still the champ. However it looks like the Buckeyes have a long way to go this season! Last week beat Indiana 34-27/ this week Maryland.

2. Alabama - Tell me, what team has the most impressive win this season? Yes, it's Alabama. To all the idiots out there who thought because of one game that this program was out, well you are what you are. Still the best program in America! Last week beat Georgia 38-10 / this week @ Tennessee

3. TCU - The Frogs gave Texans a lesson on which school owns the best football program in the Lone Star State! But is it TCU or Baylor? I know it's not Texas! Last week beat Texas 50-7 / this week @ Kansas State.

4. Baylor - The Bears routed a good Texas Tech team and are on a collision course with TCU later this season. Last week beat Texas Tech 63-35 / this week vs Kansas.

5. LSU - Yes they struggled in their win over Eastern Michigan, but name one team this season that has not struggled? Looks like the Tigers and Tide are going to have a big say so in the playoff hunt! Last week beat EMU 44-23/ this week @ South Carolina.

6. Florida - The Gators defense has always been legit and now their team has crashed the playoff party without warning. Man in two weeks a date at LSU is going to be nasty! Last week beat Ole Miss 38-10 / this week @ Missouri.

7. Utah - The Utes are the Class of the Pac-12 right now. And the next three weeks will prove if I'm right with games versus Cal, Arizona State and USC. Last week BYE / this week vs Cal.

8. Clemson - The Tigers always seemingly get off to a hot start and then Georgia Tech comes to town. Oops did I just say that? After a win over the Irish thats what the Tigers are facing this week. Last week beat Notre Dame 24-22 / this week vs Georgia Tech.

9. Michigan - Call me a Jim Harbaugh lover but since Big Blue lost 24-17 to open the season the Wolverines have allowed 14 points and just post back to back shutouts. Has anyone else done that? Look out this week as a huge one, perhaps the biggest ever between Northwestern and Michigan, goes down in the Big House! Last week beat Maryland 28-0 / this week vs Northwestern.

10. Michigan State - The Spartans are overrated. But they can prove me and the nation wrong with a big win in two weeks at the Big House. It ain't gonna happen. Last week beat Purdue 24-21 / this week @ Rutgers.

Just a little extra for ya!

Bye - Northwestern, Texas A&M, Stanford and Oklahoma
Sell - Georgia, Florida State, UCLA and Ole Miss
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Deke: If the Saints lose Sunday night, their season is over

Series History: Dallas and the Saints have played a total of 27 times. Dallas has 16 victories, while the Saints have won 11. Prior to last season's game, the Saints had won three straight and five of the last six, but in 2014 Dallas jumped out to a commanding 24-0 halftime lead and went on to beat the Saints 38-17.

The Saints and Cowboys square off once again with each team seemingly headed in different directions. Dallas is coming off their first loss of the season while for the second time in four years the Saints have started a season 0-3.

New Orleans is desperate for a win and Dallas needs to find a way to win without their two best players in QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant. If Dallas can find a way to stay around five hundred before they get their go-to guys back, then maybe, just maybe the Cowboys can make a run at the post season when and if they get Dez and Tony back.

Dallas jumped out to a 21-7 and 28-14 lead over Atlanta last week before the Falcons rolled over Dallas in the final quarter en-route to a 39-28 win over the Cowboys.

What the Saints need to do?

Well folks, this is it - if the Saints lose Sunday then the season is over. Sure there will be 12 more games left on the schedule but there is no way the Saints will come back from that poor start and make the playoffs.

New Orleans needs to run better, rush the passer better, win the turnover battle and have someone on offense step up and make a big play. Who is the Saints go-to man on offense? No one seems to know.

I think the next three games can be not only a season saver but perhaps a franchise saver when it comes to the Sean Payton era. Should New Orleans get to 3-3 after six games that would represent three huge wins over playoff caliber teams.

Should the Saints lose to Dallas, I can't see this team being anything other than a spoiler or a team that musters up a five hundred record. And to me that's sad. This team is well paid at the top, they have been among the elite for nearly a decade and to me another poor start means that more than just X's and O's are the problem.

Questionable drafts, losing draft picks to trades, bad free agent picks and disciplinary problems are all starting to catch up with the Saints. With that said, the Saints are a win away from feeling good about themselves, and a win Sunday could possibly start something good!

Run the football!

New Orleans needs to run the ball against the Cowboys. Atlanta gashed Dallas and New Orleans should be able to get four yards per carry against the Cowboys Sunday night. The Saints brought in big players to boost their O-Line and now we want to see the results. Asking the Saints to rush the ball effectively against Dallas is not that huge of a deal. The Saints getting the job done may very well be!

Go Marcus Go!

The Saints have a new spark plug when it comes to making plays and he's rookie Marcus Murphy. Murphy was electric last week as he totaled 154 yards on five touches with a 74 yard punt return for a TD. Murphy should be more involved on offense and a team that needs a spark should call on the hot hand. Double M is hot!

Win the turnover battle, win the game!

When the Saints don't turn the ball over under Sean Payton, they don't lose. New Orleans was minus -2 last week in turnovers against Carolina. And the Saints are minus -3 for the season. If the Saints lose the battle of turnovers Sunday night they will more than likely lose the game!

The Big Chief's Final Analysis

New Orleans is a 4 1/2 point favorite over Dallas. Are the Cowboys as bad as Tampa even without Tony Romo? Can QB Brandon Weeded play as good as Bucs QB Jamies Winston did two weeks ago in the Superdome?

I'm thinking that the Saints are favored here because they are at home. New Orleans has lost their last six home games. And what would be a more prefect time to stop that skid than Sunday night against the Cowboys?

I think the Saints could win, but I'm not betting on it. In the spirit of being with the home team, I'll pick the Saints and take the points. New Orleans 28 Dallas 24!
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Deke's NFL Top Ten, week four

The Patriots are hot, the Ravens are not.  Seven teams are undefeated after three weeks and 25 are not!  In the NFC, Green Bay and Arizona are damn good, Atlanta is also close in the neighborhood.  Carolina and Dallas are about the same, while I think Seattle is still the most dangerous team in the game.  In the American Conference, White Horses play hard on defense while the Bengals and Steelers are salty on offense. Buffalo billed their way back into my top ten, while the planes of New York fell out yet again!  I think that about covers it y'all, and now back to more football.  

I'm a poet and you know it!  Here's my top ten, so let's begin!  

1.  New England Patriots (3-0) -  Nearly one thousand yards of offense the last two weeks and five pretty TD passes from the prettiest player in the history of the pigskin make me think that the dynasty is still alive and well.  Last week beat Jacksonville 51-17/ this week vs BYE.

2.  Green Bay Packers (3-0) -  The Packers are on fire and QB Aaron Rodgers is making last season's MVP showing look like it's going to be second fiddle to what he's currently doing in 2015.  Cold frozen tundra?  Warm indoor climate?  Those late January home field venues could be the difference in a Super Bowl berth between the Cards and Pack.  I think those two will be the top seeds this post season.  Which one is one and which one is two TBD!   Last week beat Kansas City 38-28/ this week @ San Francisco.

3.  Arizona Cardinals (3-0) -  They are without question the second best team in the NFL right now, and they might not even win their own division this season.  As long as QB Palmer plays, these Birds of Prey are pretty damn good!  And did I mention they've scored 95 points the last two weeks!  Last week beat Chicago 47-7/ this week vs St. Louis

4.  Denver Broncos  (3-0) - Denver has a stout defense and a veteran QB that knows less of his arm means more of his team, which is not a bad thing.  The White Horses are perhaps the most complete they've been since Manning came to the Mile High Club!  Damn did I just say that?  Oops!   Last week beat Detroit 24-12 / this week vs Minnesota

5. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) - I know that the Bengals are going back to the playoffs.  What don't know is if they will finally win a post season game.  This team is as consistent as any in the regular season.  Too bad they don't hand out trophies this time of year!  Last week beat Baltimore 28-24/ this week @ Kansas City. 

6.  Atlanta Falcons (3-0) - As long as double J is in uniform, these Black Birds from the ATL got a shot.  Ladies and gentlemen say hello and welcome in the NFL's new best player, WR Julio Jones!  Julio is all that and then some, my people!   Last week beat Dallas 39-28/ this week vs Houston.

7. Seattle Seahawks (1-2) -  Yes, the Seabirds picked up their first win of the season with a dominant defensive effort in their 23-0 win over the Bears.  Hey, they could be 3-0, but they are just as dangerous at 1-2.  Last week beat Chicago 23-0/ this week vs Detroit.  .

8.  Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) -  Big Ben went down and is out for at least four games.  Hey man, having Mike Vick as your backup ain't too damn bad.  I hope MV wins all his games as the Steelers starting QB.  Give the brother a break.  MV paid back all the money he was fined, he's helped the cause three fold and he's more mature man.  If you want forgiveness, don't you have to give it too?  Last week beat St. Louis 12-6/ this week vs Baltimore.  

9.  Buffalo Bills (2-1) - Their only loss was by eight points to the perfect Patriots. The Bills defense is stout and their offense led by young QB Tyrod Taylor is getting better each week.  Now the battle of NY takes place in Orchard Park as the G-Men from the Big Apple are in town.  I'm for the Bills people!  Last week beat Miami 41-14 /this week vs NY Giants.  

10.   Carolina Panthers (3-0) -  Hey, they win ugly and there's nothing wrong with that at all.  QB Cam is doing well and their defense is among the best in the NFL again this season.  I'd say another playoff berth is highly obtainable.  Last week beat New Orleans 27-22/ this week @ Tampa Bay.  
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Deke's SEC Rankings, week five

SEC, SEC, SEC!  The West is still the best and the Bulldogs and Gators are the only Eastern teams that still don’t have a loss.  Here are my rankings as we go into another week of great SEC football! 

1.     Georgia – RB Nick Chubb broke another record against Southern?! The Heisman could come down to Chubb and Fournette, and it will be won by the player that does the best in SEC games!  Last week beat Southern 48-6 / this week vs Alabama 

2.     Ole Miss – The Rebels had somewhat of a letdown in their game with the 'Dores, but that’s expected after you beat a team twice in a row for the first time in - forever!  Look out in the SWAMP!  Hotty Toddy!  Last week beat Vanderbilt 27-16 / this week @ Florida

3.     LSU – He’s the front runner for the big prize and RB Leonard Fournette is as legit as anyone, ever.  The last time a RB was taken #1 overall in the NFL Draft was back in 1995.  In April of 2017, Fournette will become the next!  Last week beat Syracuse 34-24 / this week vs Eastern Michigan

4.     Alabama – The last time Alabama lost two games in the regular season was back in 2010.  And the last time the Tide lost three games was in 2007. Last week beat UL Monroe / this week @ Georgia

5.     Texas A&M – The Aggies got by the Hogs and can eliminate another SEC West foe from the title race this week as the Bulldogs come to College Station.  Last week beat Arkansas 28-21OT / this week vs Nevada. 

6.     Florida – How could anyone have bet against the Gators when they played the Vols?  Florida owns property in Knoxville and they’ve owned it for 11 straight years!  The Gators have a chance now to enter the national conversation this week!  Last week beat Tennessee 28-27/this week vs Ole Miss

7.     Mississippi State – The Dogs reappeared in the West race and now can shock us all with a road win over Texas A&M.  Anytime you’ve got a player like QB Dak Prescott you’ve got a shot! Last week beat Auburn 17-9 / this week vs @ Texas A&M

8.     Kentucky – I like this team.  Their only loss was to undefeated Florida, and the Wildcats could finish towards the top of the East this season. Last week beat Missouri 21-13 / this week vs Eastern Kentucky 

9.     Missouri – The Tigers lost for the first time last week and now face a must-win to stay alive in the East game against the 'Cocks!  Last week lost to Kentucky 13-21 / this week vs Missouri

10.     Arkansas – The season from hell (or should I say season in hell?) continues for the Hogs.  Still with such a tough schedule of SEC games in front of them you can’t call these Hogs out just yet.  But the plump phat lady is warming up!  Last week lost Texas A&M 28-21OT/ this week @ Tennessee

11.     Tennessee – Coach Butch Jones and the Vols are an impoved program but not ready for prime time just yet.  Someone will win this week between two struggling teams.  Last week lost to Florida 28-21 / this week vs Arkansas.  . 

12.     Auburn – WAR EAGLE! IT’S OVER!  Only question is how good can Auburn become in 2016, becase 2015 is done!  Last week lost to Mississippi State 9-17 / this week vs San Jose State

13.     South Carolina – The ole ball coach could be coming to his last days on the sideline.  2014 and 2015 are showing that this team has lost it's power.  Forever?  I’m not sure.  Last week beat Central Florida 31-14 / this week @ Missouri 

14.     Vanderbilt – All they can hope for is respectable showings the rest of the season!  Last week lost to Ole Miss 16-27 / this week @ Middle Tennessee
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Deke: Saints likely to deliver a season full of long Mondays

Close calls are for losers! Hey, that’s the flat out truth.  The Saints are not a franchise enamored with moral victories.  In fact, not being negative Nelly here, but as a fan (which we all are), close calls suck, especially if you’re on the losing end.  Now the Saints fall to 0-3 and come home in primetime to face the Dallas Cowboys.  So as I prepare to look back and recap the Saints third loss of the season in as many games, I promise I try to remain upbeat.  What I’m upbeat about - I have no idea!

The Good
Saints QB Luke McCown did have a good showing despite a game-clinching pick thrown late in the game. Luke was 31 of 38 for 310 yards, with a QB rating of 89.7.  Luke was sharp throwing the football and he was very active in distributing the ball completing passes to nine different Saints players..

Rookie Marcus Murphy did something that no Saint had done since September 2011 season when he returned a punt 74 yards for a TD, becoming the first Saints player to score on a punt return since Darren Sproles did against Green Bay. Murphy averaged over 30 yards each time he touched the football. He had three kick returns for a total of 72 yards and two punt returns for 82 yards.

The Saints defense played well for the third straight game but in the end it was not enough.  Let’s face it - although this team is 0-3 on the season the defense has played better up to this point.  But it’s just not good enough.

The Bad!
The Saints are still struggling to find a go-to guy on offense, and the team still looks weak when it comes to running the football.  The Saints rushed the ball 24 times for 70 yards with an average of 2.9 yards per rush.  Can you answer this?  With the game on the line who do the QB’s go-to?  Is it a WR, a RB or a TE? 

And the Saints have yet to finish a game with a team average of four yards or more rushing the football. 

The Ugly!!
The Saints are 0-3 for the second time in the last four seasons.  New Orleans sits alone in the NFC South as the only winless team in the division.  Atlanta and Carolina are 3-0, Tampa sits at 1-2. 

The Saints have no threat of a running game.  It’s like Who Dat’s once again hold their breath when the Saints rush the football.  When the Saints get a gain over four yards it’s a surprise and not expected.

How many of you out there love when you wake up on Monday morning with that feel-good feeling when the Saints are coming off a win?  It sets the tone for the first two days of the week and it makes us all feel so much better.  And man, when the Saints lose it feels bad.  It’s going to be a season in which we all have a bunch of bad Monday mornings.  And my people, there is only one cure for that sick, miserable feeling!
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Deke's college football top ten, week five

I love me some college football!  As we approach the half way point of the 2015 season, no team that was their league’s pre-season favorite is the best team in their conference right now, and I’ve got the valid proof. In the Big Ten, who’s better than the fighting Harbaughs of Michigan?  Michigan’s only loss was a six point setback to the best team in the Pac-12 in the Utah Utes.  And in the SEC, Auburn is done, while LSU and Ole Miss are two steps ahead of Georgia and none of those three were pegged to win the SEC!

And in the Big 12, I think Baylor is the best team right now, but I can see all teams in that conference losing at least one game.  And in the ACC?  Well, they can claim Notre Dame I guess which is a legit contender.  Folks last Saturday is why I love college football more than anything else other than high school football and the NBA.  Woke up with the first game at 11, and went to bed at 1:30 AM Sunday morning with the remote in my hand!

Here is this week’s top 10!

1.    Ohio State – The Buckeyes handled their business much better this week than a week ago, and now Urban has settled in on a QB - or has he?  Hell he’s got three to pick from.  It looks like easy street until the Michigans show up on the schedule in back-to-back weeks to end the regular season.  Last week beat Western Michigan 38-12/ this week @ Indiana

2.    Baylor – The Bears whipped up on the Rice Owls, and now BU faces a tough road test as they head to Lubbock to take on an improved Texas Tech Red Raiders Team.  Last week beat Rice 70-17/ this week @ Texas Tech

3.    Ole Miss – The Rebels know the SEC slate is brutal, and now they have to hit the road to take on Florida.  I’m telling y'all, every team in the SEC West will lose at least one game and I would not be shocked if they all dropped a pair of games. Last week beat Vanderbilt 27-16/ this week @ Florida 

4.    Georgia – I love when the national media uses a game to down-talk the SEC. It’s like SEC schools are the only teams that play a bad game in a season.  First of all, credit to Southern as the Jags played their hearts out between the hedges.  And after all, the Dogs just beat South Carolina and host Alabama this week.  I’ll give them a break.  Last week beat Southern 48-6 / this week vs Alabama

5.    LSU – Seven to the left to the left, seven to the right to the right, seven up the middle up the middle now score, now score, now score!  Leonard Fournette is LSU.  And ain’t a damn thing wrong with that.  Last week beat Syracuse 34-24 / this week vs Eastern Michigan

6.    Notre Dame - Notre Dame took care of business, and now the Irish have another huge game as they travel to the other Death Valley to face Clemson.  Hey say what you want about ND, but I can promise you, if this team is perfect or among a pool of teams with one loss, they go to the playoffs over anyone.  And they have the schedule to prove it!  Last week beat UMass 62-27 / this week @ Clemson.  

7.    Michigan State – The Spartans are a sound team, but are they as good as everyone in the Northeast says they are?  We will see in three weeks when they take on rival Michigan.  I think one team will come out of the Big Ten this season and make it into the playoffs.  I’m not thinking it’s going to be MSU, but I could be wrong.  Last week beat Central Michigan / this week vs Purdue.  

8.    TCU – The Horned Frogs are a little overrated. They are good, but not as good as they were made out to be.  Hey, so was Auburn! But TCU is still in the top 10 because of a tipped pass?  TCU is living proof is all about survival!  Last week beat Texas Tech 55-52 / this week vs Texas.  

9.    UCLA – Are the Bruins the class of the Pac-12?  UCLA, Stanford and Utah are all in a class by themselves right now with USC just peaking from the outside!  Last week beat Arizona – 30 / this week vs Arizona State.  

10.    Utah & Michigan – Yes, I’m telling you, the best two teams in their respected leagues right now are two teams that were separated by a mere TD in week one of the season.  Utah is the Class of the Pac-12 right now and UM has a schedule that sets them up to run the table with two huge ones at home in Michigan State and Ohio State. I told y’all way back in July, these two were playoff sleepers.  But Utes watch out this week as the Bears from Cal are rising!  Wake up everybody!  Last week Michigan beat BYU 31-0 / this week @ Maryland and last week Utah beat Oregon 62-13 / this week vs Cal
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Deke: Saints weaknesses match up perfectly with Panther strengths

Records:  New Orleans is 0-2 and Carolina is 2-0
Last week’s Results:  Tampa Bay beat New Orleans 26-19 and Carolina beat Houston 24-17. 
Series History:  The Carolina Panthers lead the series with the Saints 21-19.  Carolina and the Saints split the 2014 series with the Cats taking a 41-10 win over New Orleans in the Superdome last December.  Nearly half the games in the series (19) have been decided by eight points or less. 

 The Scoop on the Cats

Defensively consistent: Carolina is a consistent team when it comes to defensive play.  Carolina’s defense has ranked in the top 10 in each of the past three seasons.  Carolina is one of three teams (Seattle & San Francisco) that have been ranked in the top ten during that time span.  Carolina ranks 5th in total defense allowing 282.5 yards per game.

Hard to run, hard to convert on 3rd down! The Panthers are solid on defense for many reasons.  Currently Carolina allows a meager 79 rushing yards per game (Saints average 79) & the Panthers are one of the best in the league in third down defense.  Carolina opponents are converting on 25.8% of their third downs, which is second in the NFL.

Tackling machine: LB Luke Kuechly is the real deal.  Luke led the league in tackles last season for the second straight year and he has led the league in three of the last four years in tackles as well. Lucky for the Saints he is not likely to play Sunday.

You don’t score on these clawing Cats: The Panthers are once again among the elite defense units when it comes to scoring defense.  Carolina is second in the NFL in scoring defense allowing 13 points per game.  Carolina’s foes have not been the toughest with two wins coming against Jacksonville and Houston. 

He’s tight at end! Since he was acquired, Carolina TE Greg Olsen has been one of the best players in the NFL.  Olson could own all of the Panthers career numbers when it comes to production at the tight end position.  Entering the 2015 season Olsen is second behind Wesley Walls and needs 54 catches and 696 yards to surpass Walls.  Olsen is one of the favorite and most reliable options in the passing game for QB Cam Newton.

In Cam they trust!  QB Cam Newton has the Cats off to a 2-0 start and the young signal caller can lead his team to the post season for a third straight season and another NFC South crown this season.  Cam and the Cats became the first NFC South team to win back to back division titles since the division was formed back in 2002.  In two games this season Cam has completed 36-of-68 passes for 370 yards with three TD’s and two interceptions for a QB Rating of 71.3.

The Big Chief says: Well folks the Saints are off to another 0-2 start for the third time in the last four seasons.  With Carolina and Atlanta at 2-0 the Saints can’t afford to fall much further behind. When it comes to breaking down this game I see that the Saints weak points fall right into the strengths of the Carolina Panthers.  The Saints offense is struggling, the Panthers defense is very good. 

The Saints can’t run the ball, the Panthers stop the run.  The Saints aren't scoring a lot and the Cats don’t allow many points.  You get the point don’t you?  And for the first time since 2005, we won't have #9 under center. Even if Drew were in, the Saints are not playing well.  The hope is that the newer players will continue to get better as Coach Payton has suggested, Many younger players are getting better.  I think the Saints will play hard and if they don’t, then that is a sign to me that the problems on this team are much deeper than what we see on Sundays.

I’m going to go with the Carolina Panthers in this one.  Hey the Saints defense has not played that bad, but this week New Orleans is running into a team that is more sound on defense and they are a team that has a clear identity.

I’ll say Carolina 23 New Orleans 16
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