The Saints were hoping to get to 3-4 before a two game home stand with games against the Eagles and Falcons. Now, the task was a tall one on the road, to take on a high-powered tough team and beat the Denver Broncos at home…but did anyone see this coming?
New Orleans was soundly beaten in every phase of the game, leading us all to ask the question that has been in our minds since the Saints began the season a surprising 0-3…and that question is: Is it over yet? Well folks, if it ain’t over, it’s only a matter of time before it is.
The Saints are now 2-5. New Orleans’ record is only one game better than Carolina in the NFC, with the Panthers’ only win coming against the Saints. The Saints have the second-worst record in National Football Conference. That 2-5 record is better than just three teams in the NFL, with those teams being Carolina, Jacksonville, and Kansas City, another team that has one win with that one win coming against guess who?
Against Denver, the rest of the world saw what happens to the Saints if their offense is not working. And that result is a blowout loss. The Saints’ only shot at staying in a game comes when their offense puts up big numbers.
252 yards of total offense, including just a whopping 51 rushing yards, were all that the Saints could manage against Denver. New Orleans was a dismal 1-of-12 on third down conversions in the game after being second-best in NFL converting on 48% of third downs.
A year after the Saints offense broke every record known to man, their defense is obviously envious of that achievement with the strong showing they are giving on a consist basis. The Saints defense is setting all sorts of records of their own that could stand for a very long time, if not forever.
The Saints are the first team in NFL history to allow an opposing team to gain 400 yards or more in their first seven games, as Denver gained 530 yards of total offense against the Saints. Prior to the 2012 season the Saints had allowed opposing teams to gain 500 yards or more ten times in 45 years. The Saints have allowed 500 yards or more of total offense three times in the last five games.
Denver made the Saints look bad on offense, they made the Saints look bad on defense, and they dominated the game. There are nine games remaining on the Saints schedule, and by the looks of the complexity of the NFC, it may take the Saints to go on a nine game win streak to have any shot to make the playoffs.
This team has reeled off win streaks of 13 and 9 wins in two of the last three seasons. But that was then, and this is now. What am I saying? What I am saying is that this team is going nowhere. The Saints may win a game here or a game there, but with what we have seen from the Saints defense…the lack of a rushing attack…and no Sean Payton…the final nine games will only produce a few wins, possibly a handful. It is delaying the inevitable, and that is it’s over. And If I am wrong, I will gladly stand up, get crunk, and admit I’m wrong. But I won’t be!
New Orleans Saints (2-4) @ Denver Broncos (3-3)
Series History – Denver leads 7-2
Last meeting – Denver beat New Orleans 34-32 September 21 20008
What you need to know:
1. Denver is well-rested after taking their bye week last weekend. The Broncos improved to 3-3 after their thrilling 35-24 come-from-behind win over San Diego.
2. If the game is close late, watch out for the White Horses in the 4th quarter. Denver has shut out five of their six opponents in the 4th quarter of games. The Broncos have the second largest point differential in the final quarter through six games in NFL history at +73.
3. The Broncos have won the last three meetings in the series. The only times the Saints have beaten Denver were back in 1994 and in 1988 when the Dome Patrol and QB Bobby Hebert helped the Black and Gold shut out Denver 42-0.
4. Gronk’s are everywhere aren’t they? Did you know that Denver FB Chris Gronkowski is one of three Gronkowski’s in the NFL? Brothers Rob (New England) and Dan are the first trio of brothers in the NFL at the same time since the Baldinger Brothers did it back in 1992.
5. “Peyton is having trouble adjusting to his new team!” Who in the hell said that? The QB that many said is going to be a step off of his old self has passed for 300 yards and three TD’s while completing 70 percent of his passes in the last three games, the first player in NFL history to accomplish that feat. The man is still money!
Keys to the Game
1. Will Elvis show up in the building? If Elvis Dumervil goes off, it could be real trouble for the Saints. Dumervile is once again off to a good start when it comes to taking down opposing QB’s. Elvis did not post a sack in the Broncos’ first two games, but since then he has five in four games, which is second on the Broncos Team.
2. Get’em on 3rd down – The Broncos D allows opponents to convert on 3rd down 45.6% of the time, which is 29th in the league. That’s bad news for Denver and great news for a Saints Offense that ranks 2nd in the league, converting 48.2% of the time on third down.
3. Denver will fumble! If stats mean anything then the Broncos will fumble against the Saints at least one time in the game. Denver has fumbled nine times and lost all nine. And the Broncos are -3 in the turnover margin which is 22nd in the NFL.
4. What pressure? The Broncos have two of the best tackles in the game today in Ryan Claddy and Orlando Franklin. Claddy has been solid since he was selected 12th overall by Denver in the 2008 NFL Draft, and he is currently one of four OT’s in the NFL to not have given up a sack. Franklin is no ordinary second year player in the league. In his rookie season Orlando Franklin became the first RT and just the sixth OL in Broncos history to start every game of the season. Getting pressure on Peyton is going to be very hard to do
5. No one will run, right? The Saints and Broncos have two of the best, not as complete offenses in the NFL today. Both Denver and New Orleans can throw on any team they face, but both are not real worried about running the football. Denver is rushing for 93.8 yards per game and New Orleans is 32nd in the NFL with an average of 76.2. Combined, the Saints and Broncos don’t average as many rushing yards as the Redskins, who average 177 per game, and 49ers, who average 176 per contest. Dayum!
Big Chief’s Final Analysis – This should be an entertaining game that should keep the score-keeper busy. The Broncos and Saints have offenses that think pass first, second and third and then they run. Denver has not been all that great protecting the football and the Saints, although they are 2-4, are even in the turnover margin. I’d stay away from the points here and go with the taking the over. I think this is going to be a very hard game for the Saints to win…but if they do, they could be on a five or six game win streak with two straight home games coming up against Philly and ATL. In a close shoot out I’ll give the nod to the team with the better defense and the team that is playing at home.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees joined me and Bobby Hebert for the weekly "QB to QB" chat on SportsTalk. He talked about the team's preparation for Denver, the challenge of facing Peyton Manning, and going up against former Saints standout Tracy Porter.
Drew told us that it does feel like the Black and Gold is getting into a rhythm.
"The games don't get any easier...but we continue to gain confidence," Brees said. "As you win, winning just breeds that attitude that, 'hey, no matter what the situation, we can find a way.' And despite the way the season started, we're back on track, but it's still about getting a little bit better each week...We know we've got a huge challenge going to Denver for Sunday Night Football, the way they're playing right now...but, we're going to be ready for it."
#9 said that one of the biggest challenges will be facing Peyton Manning.
"When you're playing against him, you've got to take advantage every opportunity you get, offensively...because you just don't know how many there are going to be. Typically they posses the ball very well, they utilize the clock, do all those things...so you just know what you're dealing with on the other side, and kind like, "I know they're not going to make mistakes, so we're not going to make them, either," Brees said.
The Sunday night game will be the first time that both Brees and Manning will be back on the same field since the Super Bowl. And, a third key player from that Super Bowl matchup will be there as well: Former Saint Tracy Porter, now playing for the Broncos.
"Listen, he would love nothing more than to get an interception, and take one back to the house...just like I'd love nothing more than throw a couple over his head," Brees said. "I mean, I love Tracy, and obviously we all know what he meant to this team during our run. He was a huge part of that success, just like Carl Nicks was, from last week, and Robert Meachem was from the Charger week. So, you know, life goes on, and if you play long enough in this league, you're going to play against plenty of guys who are former teammates...but obviously, we wish Tracy the best...except for this weekend," Drew added with a laugh.
The Packers and Giants are playing as good as anyone right now, the Texans bounced back with a statement win over the Ravens, and the Vikings of the Twin Cities are for real. Let's take a peek at my NFL top ten as we hit week 8 of the 2012 season.
1. Atlanta (6-0) – The Dirty Birds are still the only team without a loss in te NFL. This team is now well-rested and will travel to the City of Brotherly Love for a date against the Eagles. Atlanta needs to keep on winning to stay ahead of the pack for home field in the NFC. Last week bye / this week @ Philadelphia
2. NY Giants (5-2) – The Comeback Kid and his Salsa dancing playmaker WR are the best one-two pass to receiver combo in the league today. Eli Manning is carving up defenses and his G-Men will be major players in the Super Bowl hunt for the next six or so years. This team has it all! Last week beat Washington 27-23 /this week @ Dallas.
3. Houston (6-1) – The Texans had their most impressive showing of the year just one week after worst week of the season. Houston looked mighty impressive in a 43-13 blowout win over the Ravens. Houston dominated from start to finish as they built a commanding 29-3 halftime lead. The Texans D limited the Ravens to just 176 yards and they sacked Joe Flacco four times. Now, the Texans get a week off before they can begin to pull away from the rest of the AFC. Last week beat Baltimore 43-13 / this week bye.
4. Chicago (5-1) – The Bears enjoyed a week off and then took care of a little divisional business with a win over the Lions from Motown. The Bears defense shut down Meggatron and the high-powered Cats from Detroit. Next, the Monsters of the Midway will take on another group of Cats with an even more dangerous signal caller. Last beat Detroit 13-7 / this week vs. Carolina.
5. Green Bay (4-3) - Ahh, the Packers have gotten into the form that we are use to seeing them play with. Green Bay, along with the Giants, are a couple of teams that don't need to play at home in the post season...all they need is a ticket to the dance to win it all. As expected, GB will make a deep run again this season. QB Aaron Rodgers shredded the Rams, going 30-of-37 for 342 yards with 3 TD's and no picks. Last week beat St. Louis 30-20 / this week vs. Jacksonville.
6. Minnesota (5-2) – As we approach the halfway point of the season, Vikings Coach Leslie Frazier is the Coach of the Year...RB Adrian Peterson is the comeback player of the year...and Minnesota would be the team of the year. How many teams in the history of this game have had a QB pass for 58 yards and gain just 209 yards and win a game? I'll bet not many, if any. This is a solid team that is in the race for the long haul. Last week beat Arizona 21-14 / this week vs. Tampa Bay.
7. Baltimore (5-2) – The Ravens are 5-2, but this team is clearly not as good as their record. Now, the Purple Birds will have to go through the rest of the season without Ray Lewis. Can Terrell Suggs handle the load as a player and team leader? He will have to, if Baltimore is going to get over the hump and make it to the big game. Last week lost Houston 43-13 / this week bye.
8. San Francisco (5-2) - For years, the NFC West was called "garbage," but now they have the best division in football. The 49ers bounced back with a tough hard-fought win over a scrappy Seabirds team last Thursday night. Now Harbaugh's team can begin to pull away from their divisional foes with a win over the Red Birds from the desert. Last week beat Seattle 13-6 / this week @ Arizona.
9. New England (4-3) - The Patriots are the third and final team from the AFC to make this week's top ten. New England nearly blew another lead this past week to sexy Rexy and the planes from the Big Apple. The only thing that the Patriots have going for them right now is that they are doing a decent job rushing the football, and they know that the rest of their division is not real good! Last week beat NY Jets 29-26 / this week vs. St. Louis in London
The third Saturday in October produced some good information. First, we still know that Alabama is the most complete team in the country. Second, Florida is for real. Third, South Carolina is not. Fourth Kansas State is the best team in the Big XII, bar none.
This week we find out if Notre Dame is a legit BCS Title contender. If you want to win in the SEC, all you need is a great defense or Cam Newton. Just ask Bama, LSU Florida or Auburn! Let's take a look at my CFB top ten going into the 9th week of the season.
1. Alabama (7-0) - Man QB A.J. McCarron looked real hurt to me. After all he did throw just four TD passes in the Tide's big road win over Tennessee. WR Amari Cooper has become one of the top WR's for McCarron as he hauled in 7 grabs for 162-yards. If the rest of the field in CFB does not already know, here's how you beat Bama. You have to play your best, and Alabama has to play very badly in order for you to win. The truth hurts doesn't it? Last week beat Tennessee 44-13 / this week vs Mississippi State.
2. Oregon (7-0) - Don't let the 43-21 score fool you, the Ducks were ahead 43-7 before the Sun Devils could blink. Oregon still looks like the class of the Pac 12, but two big tests loom with dates against the Men of Troy and rival OSU - who is ready for this year's version of the Civil War. Last beat Arizona State 43-21 / this week vs Colorado.
3. Kansas State (7-0) - These Wildcats are good. QB Collin Klien is the front runner for the Heisman, and Coach Bill Snyder is the coach of the year. Come on folks give this team their props! They have won big on the road, they have won big at home. The Wildcats could be a legit BCS Title opponent for any team. I'm serious ya'll! Last week beat West Virginia 55-14 / this week vs Texas Tech.
4. Florida (7-0) - QB Jeff Driskel tossed four TD passes in the Gators' romp over the Gamecocks. How weak is the SEC East? Can anyone in the West lock up their division this weekend? No! But Florida can win the East with a win over the Dogs in the world's largest cocktail party! Last week beat South Carolina 44-11 / this week vs Georgia.
5. Notre Dame (7-0) - Notre Dame got by the Cougars but could be in trouble this week in Norman against a red hot Sooners Team. Coach Brian Kelly has done a great job, but the system tells us he does not have the horses to keep up with OU this weekend. Last week beat BYU 17-14 / this week @ Oklahoma.
6. LSU (7-1) - The Tigers O-line again dominated their foe with a hard core effort in the Bengals win over the Aggies. This team is flagged way too many times, they can't score in the red zone and their QB is struggling. So what!?! LSU has a salty defense, the best freshman RB in CFB and they are one win away from taking control in the powerful SEC West. Hey Mad Hatter, you better have your boys ready in two weeks... because your fans say you owe them for what went down in January. I'm just sayin'! Last week beat Texas A&M 24-19 / this week off - vs. Alabama Nov. 3.
7. Oregon State (5-0) - The Beavers took care of the Utah Utes and now hit the road for what looks to be a tough one against the Huskies of UW. Last week beat Utah 21-7 / this week @ Washington.
8. Mississippi State (7-0) - Any SEC Team that wins seven straight is a top ten team in my book. Now the main question is, how far will the Bulldogs climb IF they shock the world and win in Tuscaloosa? Last week beat Middle Tennessee 45-3 / this week @ Alabama.
9. Oklahoma (5-1) - The Sooners destroyed Kansas 52-7, as QB Landry J threw for 291 yards and three scores. Now the Sooners will get up to take on Notre Dame. I wonder how Coach Stoops will be able to get his team fired up for this one? I mean it's not like any of his players were alive the last time Notre Dame was worth a dam! Last week beat Kansas 51-7 / this week vs Notre Dame.
10. Georgia (6-1) - I could really rank a few teams here... but Florida State is over rated, Ohio State is not very good and USC will have to beat Oregon to make me a believer. So I'll stay in the SEC and go with the Dogs. Even though Georgia looked horrible in a 29-24 win over the Wildcats, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they were looking ahead to this week's game against rival Florida. I had to say something right? Last week beat Kentucky 29-24 / this week @ Florida in Jacksonville.
If if’s and but’s were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas right? Well if the Bucs had closed out games strong and limited a few mistakes they could be a 5-1 team, or even perhaps 6-0. Tampa’s three losses (41-34 NYG, 16-10 Dallas, 24-22 Washington) have come by a combined 15 points. So it’s safe to say that the Buccaneers are much better than their 2-3 record indicates.
If Tampa were in the AFC, they’d be in a tie with a boat load of teams for the Wild Card. Bottom line here is that there are still ten games left to play for each of these teams after this contest. A loss by either team here is basically all she wrote.
Keys to the game
New Orleans has to rush the football. The Saints have not run the ball well (75.2 average), and they have not attempted to run the ball throughout any of their six games - with the exception of when the Saints played Carolina in week two of the season. The Saints will not be able to throw the ball 55 times and win. Tampa has the 4th best rushing defense, but it’s largely due to how bad the Bucs pass defense is (312.2 ypg) which is 31st in the NFL. Still, the Saints can’t pay too much attention to how bad Tampa’s pass defense is. They still have to try and have some type of balance on offense.
Don’t get “Ron-day’ed.” Ronde Barber is like a fine wine, meaning he only gets better with age. Barber has the most consecutive starts at corner back (200) in NFL history. The man is an ageless wonder, and he has had some pretty good games against the Saints. The less New Orleans has t,o pass against Barber and the Bucs defensive secondary, the better. Ronde’s ball hawking skills may have diminished some, but he can still take over a game.
Tackle better – The Saints will be facing some good runners featured on the Bucs Offense that are hard to bring down. New Orleans must wrap up the Bucs ball carriers and take them to the ground. RB’s Blount and Doug Martin will be given the ball more times than not, and if New Orleans does not tackle wel,l it could be a long day at Raymond James Stadium.
Win on the road? – The Saints picked up their first win of the season two weeks ago in a wild one at home against the Chargers. New Orleans will look to win their second game of the season and their first on the road in 2012.
Don’t get blinded by the Dream! – What am I talking about? Well, all you old school football fans will have a throwback memory on Sunday as the Bucs will be wearing their old colored uniforms. The original Tampa Bay uniforms that look just like a Dream/Creamsicle will be on display.
New Orleans should get a boost from LB Jonathan Vilma being activated. We could see Vilma and Curtis Lofton on the field at the same time. I’ve got to believe that the Saints will be somewhat motivated with #51 back on the field. I’ll take the Saints in this one. New Orleans 28 Tampa Bay 20
New Orleans Saints (1-4) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)
Sunday October 22 Noon Kickoff Raymond James Stadium in Tampa
Last week’s results: New Orleans was off while Tampa Bay Kansas City 38-10
Series History: The Saints lead the series 23-17. This series has been extremely close since 2001. Tampa has won 11 games during that span while the Saints have posted ten wins versus the Bucs since 2001.
Last meeting: The Saints beat the Bucs 27-16 last November in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
Week 8 of the prep football season is here, and for some teams it is time to shape up or they will be out of the playoffs. Remember the top 32 teams of each class make the playoffs. Seeds 1-16 host a playoff game, and seeds 17-32 go on the road in round #1.
One thing that comes to mind, and kind of gets under my skin, is how little the Louisiana Sports Writers are. Can you believe that going into the 8th week of the season that the 4A undefeated O.P. Walker Chargers are not ranked in the Class 4A top ten poll?
This is a classic example of writers voting along with other writers and it clearly shows that these writers are not doing the readers any justice. Sports writers are suppose to read, research and report. This is obviously not being done.
I don't want to hear, 'Oh it's just high school' or the always used 'I'm busy with other stuff.' I'll steal a line from Sean Payton here and say, 'Just do your job.' How can a yearly 4A playoff power that has a perfect record not be ranked? And to validate my point even more, the Chargers from the Westbank are currently #2 in the 4A power ratings.
Enough of me squawking on my soap box, let's get down to business. The game I will be at Friday night has the #4 ranked Loranger Wolves taking on rival Independence. These two teams reside in district 8-3A. Loranger has their best team in school history, while the Tigers are 5-2 with losses only to East Jefferson and West Feliciana.
Loranger Coach Sam Messina and Independence Coach Keith Carona were both longtime assistant coaches under legendary Independence Coach Charles Baglio Jr. Messina was Coach Bags' defensive coordinator, while Carona was the Tigers' offensive coordinator.
The Tigers went to the 3A Finals in 1997 and 1998... losing to Evangel both seasons. When Baglio retired back after the 2000 season, both Carona and Messina were the top two choices to replace Coach Bags.
Carona got the job and has been in charge since. Messina stayed at Indy for a while before landing the Loranger job. Both of these coaches know the game, and both hate like hell to lose! The winner of this game will have the inside track to win district 8-3A with the loser probably coming in second place.
Loranger is led by a salty defense and LSU commitment Jeryl Brazil. A former Independence player, Miguel Toefield, is the Wolves top offensive player. He transferred to Loranger after playing three years in Independence.
The Tigers are led on offense by their powerful RB Shannon Cage. Cage will make the oldest of old school football fans smile as he is a big physical runner like Ironhead, Mike Alstott and even the great Larry Csonka.
There are many story lines, and enough drama, here to make this game my game of the week. Up front things are all business-like and gentlemanly, but behind closed doors these two teams don't like each other. Oh man this is gonna be good!
Here are the rest of the game we will cover on the PFRU:
OK, the NFC West still reigns supreme, and the G-Men from New York pulled off one of the most impressive regular-season wins ever...and then Big Bro Peyton showed up Lil' Bro Eli on MNF. Let’s take a look at this week’s Top Ten!
1. Atlanta (6-0) – Give it up folks, the ATL is the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL. Although the Falcons were out-gained and out-played last week, they still beat the Raiders. Now the Falcons can set their sights on home-field advantage in the NFC. Last week beat Oakland 23-20 / this week bye
2. NY Giants (4-2) – The most impressive regular season win I’ve ever seen last week happened when the G-Men blasted the 49ers. San Francisco had outscored their previous two foes 78-3, but not only did New York shut down the 49ers, they beat them down on both sides of the ball. New York will be a major factor this post season again! Last week beat San Francisco 26-3 / this week vs. Washington.
3. Baltimore (5-1) – The Ravens needed every bit of energy to beat a pesky Cowboys team last weekend. The off-season addition of Jacoby Jones has been huge, as Double-J made the Blue Stars pay with a 108-yard kickoff return for a TD. Now, will a preview of the AFC Title Game take place this week in H-Town? Last week beat Dallas 31-29 / this week @ Houston.
4. Houston (5-1) – The Texans had their worst week of the season. The Texans lost LB Brian Cushing for the year, then got beat to a pulp by a mad Packers team...and now they have to take on the Ravens. Welcome back to earth Houston, there could very well be a problem! Last week lost Green Bay 42-24 / this week vs. Baltimore.
5. Chicago (4-1) – The Bears enjoyed a week off and will now take on Northern foe Detroit on MNF. The Bears need to keep a distance between themselves and the Packers. Last week bye / this week vs. Detroit .
6. San Francisco (4-2) – The 49ers got hand-delivered a dose of reality last week, courtesy of the NYG. Now the 49ers need to rebound against NFC West foe Seattle. Last week got beat by New York Giants 26-3 / this week vs. Seattle.
7. Minnesota (4-2) – The Vikings suffered a tough loss on the road last week to a good Washington team. This week, I guess we will find out which of the 4-2 teams is legit when the Red Birds from the West come to the Twin Cities. Last week lost Washington 38-26 / this week vs Minnesota.
8. Arizona (4-2) – Arizona missed a golden opportunity to stay ahead of the 49ers, but fell in overtime to Buffalo. After winning four straight, the Cards have now lost their last two games. Three straight losses may put this team in a downward spiral. Last week lost to Buffalo 19-16 / this week @ Minnesota.
9. Seattle (4-2) – Give it up to Pete C and the Seabirds. In the last three weeks, this team has picked up wins over the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots. Seattle has a good young QB and their defense is playing well. A win this week on the road against the 49ers would make us believe even more into these Hawks. Last week beat New England 24-23 / this week @ San Francisco.
10. You tell me! - Do we call the first six weeks of the NFL season good, or are we seeing some bad football? There are only two teams in the AFC with winning records...and when you look at the entire landscape of the NFL right now, only 9 teams are above five hundred. I’d have to go with the White Horses from Mile High after their dramatic comeback win over San Diego, and then I’d also give some love to Washington, Miami St. Louis. Other than that, well…..
The Riverboat Gambler shut down the so-called unstoppable offense from the Mountains, the Tide just keep on rolling and the Tigers are back in contention. Let’s take a look at this week’s top ten rankings.
1. Alabama (6-0) – The Tide remind me of that old Charlie Pride song, “ooo you’re so good when you’re bad.” Even when Alabama does not play all that good they still dominate. Now the Tide will add to the misery of the Tennessee Vols in ole Rocky Top! Last week beat Missouri 42-10 / this week @ Tennessee.
2. Oregon (6-0) – Last week off / this week @ Arizona State.
3. Kansas State (5-0) – These Wildcats are good. QB Collin Klien threw for 4 touchdowns and ran for two more as the Cats from Manhattan beat down their rival Jay-birds 56-16. RB John Hubert might be the best-kept secret in all of CFB with 527 yards and a whopping 6.9 yards per carry. Watch out this week as a much improved Iowa State team is waiting. Last week beat Kansas 56-17 / this week @ Iowa State.
4. Florida (6-0) – Florida got three TD’s and 177 yards rushing from QB Jeff Driskel. Now the Gators face a huge hurdle at home against the mad Gamecocks from Carolina. Last week beat Vanderbilt 31-17 / this week vs. South Carolina.
5. Notre Dame (6-0) – Notre Dame finally gave up some points but the end result was still a win for the Irish. Now, the next two weeks will be key with games against BYU and a road trip to Norman to face the sooners. Last week beat Stanford 20-13 / this week vs BYU.
6. LSU (6-1) – The Tigers O-Line finally dominated an opponent, and they did so against one of the best front sevens in all of CFB. Now, an old rivalry is renewed in College Station. A win Saturday would set up a huge showdown against the Crimson Tide in early November. Last week beat South Carolina 23-21 / this week @ Texas A&M.
7. Oregon State (4-0) – The Beavers’ Cody Vaz threw for 332 yards and three scores in a big road win over the Cougars. Now the Beavers return home to face another team from Utah in the Utes. Last week beat BYU 42-24 / this week vs Utah
8. South Carolina (6-1) – Don’t worry about the loss to LSU…instead focus on the Gators. A win this week puts the “old ball coach” and his Gamecocks right back in the hunt! Last week lost to LSU 23-21 / this week @ Florida.
9. Mississippi State (6-0) – Come on man, an SEC Team that wins six straight deserves to be here don’t they? Coach Dan Mullen and his Bulldogs are still not getting any respect, but that could change in two weeks with a road game to Tuscaloosa! Last week beat Tennessee 41-31 / this week vs Middle Tennessee.
10. Ohio State (6-0) – I could really rank a few teams in this spot, but I’ll stay away from being a Big Ten Hater and give the nod to the Buckeyes from Ohio! Did you know that the Big East is better than the Big Ten right now? And I ain’t talking hoops, either! Last week beat Indiana 52-49 / this week vs Purdue.
You know they say time flies when you are having fun, and without question I’m having some good times covering prep football. It’s therapeutic to me! I love the bands playing in the background, seeing all the fans really getting into each game, and those old air horns certainly remind me of what sport I am covering. Yes folks, I got to be honest with you…if it were not for Friday Nights I don’t know what I would do. This week offers another schedule of some outstanding match-ups across the state and of course down here in South Louisiana.
The game I selected for our All State Sugar Bowl Prep Football Round Up broadcast takes place in LaPlace, where the defending Class 3A state champs reside. The St. Charles Catholic Comets are back to their old winning ways again after a slow start to the season.
After a 0-2 start to the 2012 prep season the Comets have been on a roll. Now, longtime coach (and yes, I’ll call him what he will never take credit for, the legendary) Frank Monica and his Comets get an interesting test this week with a very talented Port Allen Team coming to Laplace.
“I want to tell you they are a very good team. They have a lot of talent and we have to be ready to play four quarters,” Monica said. “Port Allen has one of the top players in the state on their squad in the multi-talented Darian Claiborne.”
Claiborne has verbally committed to play college football for the Texas A&M Aggies. You want to know how tough Darian is? He is listed to play linebacker for A&M. He is the starting QB for the Pelicans.
But Port Allen is no one-man show. RB Justin Kelly is one of the area’s leading rushers with 715 yards and 12 TD’s to his credit, while WR Caleb Johnson is a big playmaker averaging 23.3 yards per reception.
Port Allen enters the game with a 4-1 mark fresh off a 28-6 win over the St. James Wildcats. Port Allen is averaging 36 points scored per game this season, with their lone loss a 50-45 setback to White Castle.
Now Port Allen will get a measuring stick game to see where their program is. A win over the Comets would signify that the Pelicans are a legitimate threat in Class 3A. St. Charles looks up to the challenge.
The Comets have been rolling since back-to-back opening season losses to Vanderbilt Catholic and Northshore. In their last three games St. Charles has scored a total of 154 points, an average of 51.2 points scored per game during that span. And, of course, all three were wins as they improved to 3-2 overall.
What’s even more impressive is that the Comets have allowed just 12 points during that stretch, and if you put pencil to paper on that one, it figures out that the Comets margin of victory has been a whopping 47.3 points.
But the real story here is the way the community has been able to deal with Hurricane Isaac. I can remember doing storm coverage back in late August and early September, and for those of you out there that think that we somehow got off easy with Isaac, think again!
Laplace was one of the hardest-hit areas during Isaac, resulting in major flooding in many area neighborhoods. “We have kids living all over the place. I’m staying upstairs,” said Coach Frank Monica. Upstairs is above the Comets Field in the football facility.
But don’t expect anyone from Monica’s bunch feeling sorry for themselves. Frank Monica will do what he has been doing for years, and that is to turn this situation into a valuable life lesson.
Monica is a person that any parent would be grateful to have tutor, teach or coach their child. People like Frank Monica are why high school football is still, and always will be, king of football. You can have all the talent in the world and get all the attention from the colleges and universities, but if you have the right coach in place, the lessons learned are all far more valuable than any scholarship or contract.
If it sounds like I love Frank Monica, well I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. Coach Monica stands for everything that is right. When his players and students leave after being around him for four years, they are better people. Hell, I feel like I am a better person after talking to him.
So join me Friday Night as I broadcast from the place that I think has a great teacher, coach and person!
The district races are heating up, so let’s take a look at some of the other match-ups our great reporters will be covering.
Fountainebleau @ Holy Cross – The Tigers are coming off their best win in years with a big 30-21 upset of the St. Aug Purple Knights. Last season the Tigers’ best win came against the previously unbeaten Bulldogs. Coach Barry Wilson and his Tigers have only lost two games, to Jesuit and Rummel. With their win over the Purple Knights the Tigers are in very good shape to stay in contention for the district 9-4A Title. However, Coach Wilson and his Tigers will be expecting a solid effort from a Bulldogs team that Holy Cross defeated in 2011.
Ponchatoula @ Mandeville – The Green Wave are coming off their first district 7-5A loss of the season, while the Skippers got back into the district race with a 24-10 win over Mandeville. If either of these two want to stay in the title hunt they will need to win this one! Ponchatoula is coming off a 21-6 setback to Covington last week. The Wave had a chance to keep the pressure on the other teams in the district, as far as keeping pace with St. Paul’s in concerned. But not fretting here as Coach Hank Tierney will try and get his Wave to test the Skippers this week in what looks to be a pretty good match-up.
Slidell @ St. Paul’s – The Wolves are still the class of 7-5A, and the now question is can Coach Ken Sears and his Wolves go through league play unscathed once again. The Wolves fell last week to Salmen but they are still alone atop of the district with a 2-0 mark. Slidell is coming off a tough loss last week to Mandeville. The Tigers are 1-2 in league play and can ill afford to suffer another loss and remain in the title hunt.
Belle Chase @ Edna Karr – Can the Karr defense continue to dominate? The Cougars have had some awesome defensive units in the past, but the 2012 version is making their claim as one of the best! The Cougars defense has allowed 27 points this season, and that is an average of a meager 5.4 points per game. Karr has posted two shutout wins, and their defense is legit from the line, to the backers and the DB’s. “We take pride in playing good defense. The players know that there have been some really good defensive units and this group is playing well right now,” Karr Coach Jabbar Juluke told me after Karr’s 26-7 win over Helan Cox. Belle Chase has lost three straight games after starting the season with a 2-0 mark. The Cardinals played Karr well last season, but they will need their best effort of the season to hang in there with these Cougars.
OK, the NFC West still reigns supreme in the NFL, the 49ers are on fire and this week, and ‘Frisco has a rematch with the G-Men from NY. Let’s take a look at this week’s top ten!
1. Houston (5-0) – The Texans just keep rolling along. Now they have to deal with the loss of one of their best defensive players in LB Brian Cushing. Last week beat NY Jets 23-16 / this week vs. Green Bay.
2. Atlanta (5-0) – Give it up folks, the ATL is for real. Even when these Dirty Dirty Birds have not played their best they have proven they can win. Now, on to 6-0 with an easy one against the Raiders. Last week beat Washington 24-17 / this week vs. Oakland.
3. San Francisco (4-1) – The 49ers have outscored their opponents 78-3 the last two weeks of the season. This team does not need much offense, but when they get 45 points and 621 yards of total offense, no team can stand up to these dudes! Last week beat Buffalo 45-3 / this week vs. New York Giants.
4. Chicago (4-1) – The Bears could actually get swept by their rival Green Bay and still win this division. Chicago looks like a team that could get on a roll. Now these Monsters of the Midway will go into hibernation for a week before the second half of the season begins. Last week beat Jacksonville 41-3 / this week bye.
5. Baltimore (4-1) – The Purple Birds are kind of like a college team. What I mean by that is this team plays down to their competition. The Ravens are far better than Cleveland and KC but could have lost to both. But hey, it’s all about winning and that’s what this team does. Look for the Ray’s, Rice and Lewis, and Eddie Reed to have a big day against the team that everyone love to get up for, the Blue Stars! Last week beat Kansas City 9-6 / this week vs. Dallas.
6. Minnesota (4-1) – Yes, the Vikings are here, and they deserve to be ranked this high! This is the NFL people, every win is hard to come by. Not many of us thought this team could win four games this season. Peterson and Gerhart is a solid tandem in the backfield, and young Christian Ponder is playing well right now. Oh yes, Coach Frazier knows a thing or two about defense too! Last week beat Tennessee 30-7 / this week @ Washington.
7. Arizona (4-1) – Although the Red Birds dropped their first game of the season, they did so to a much improved Rams team. If it’s in the “Cards” for Arizona to be a playoff team they have to beat teams like Buffalo. We shall see. Last week lost to St. Louis 17-3 / this week vs Buffalo.
8. New England (3-2) – With no legit contender in the AFC East, the Pats have the luxury of not having to win 12, 13, or 14 games to capture their division title. With that said, if this team wants to earn one of the top two seeds, they may need to win that many games! Last week beat Denver 31-21 / this week @ Seattle.
9. NY Giants (3-2) – Down 0-14, no problem, fo-get-ah-bout-it! Its New York, Jersey baby! Eli Manning is the best QB in the game right now. As long as Eli is under center, this team has a chance. However, I’m putting my ducks on the 49ers this weekend. Last week beat Cleveland 41-27 / this week @ San Francisco.
10. Pittsburgh (3-2) – Here we go! Pittsburgh’s going to the…hmmm, I’m not quite sure where this team is going. The Steelers are old and banged up on defense, they are still trying to find their offensive identity, and they look like they have fallen a few steps behind the Ravens! Hey, I don’t make this stuff up! Last week beat Philadelphia 16-14 / this week @ Tennessee.
The New Orleans Saints needed a win in the worst way, and they finally got one.
The Saints used every bit of energy and got record-breaking performances from Drew Brees, Marques Colston and Devery Henderson…and, it was all needed in the Black and Gold’s 31-24 win over the San Diego Chargers.
New Orleans once again gave up a lot of yards, but a win is a win, and the Saints certainly got what they needed. It was a night of records: Drew Brees broke Johnny Unitas’s touchdown record, Marques Colston broke Joe Horn’s Saints TD record, and Colston and Henderson became the first two players in franchise history to have at least eight receptions and 120 yards in a single game.
The biggest thing we saw in the Saints’ win over the Chargers was the play of the Saints defense. New Orleans put more pressure on the opposing quarterback. The Saints got a season-high five sacks against the Chargers after having just six total sacks in the previous four games combined. The Saints also finished the game plus-one in the turnover battle.
Yes, New Orleans once again gave up more than 400 yards of total offense, but the Saints clamped down on the Chargers in the second half of the game. For the second straight week, the Saints defense played a long stretch in which they did not give up points. Last week the Saints only allowed seven points in the final 34-plus minutes of the game. This week the Saints did not allow a point in the final 27:34 of the game.
So now the Saints will have two weeks to iron out more kinks, get players some rest, and begin to prepare for the first meeting of the season with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Are the Saints going to make a run? Will the Saints defense continue to improve? All the questions will be answered beginning with the Tampa Game. But as for now, the Saints got a much needed win.
Simply put, it’s now or never for the Saints. There is no margin for error for the Black and Gold. Can the Saints go 10-2 in their final 12 games of the season? Will 10 wins be enough to even make it to the playoffs in the NFC this season?
Bottom line, 10 wins has long been the mark to earn a playoff berth, with some seasons 10 not being enough. Back in 2006 10 wins were enough for the Saints to land the #2 seed in the NFL. New Orleans has to win, and win a lot!
Series History: The Chargers lead the Saints 7-3, with the Saints winning the last meeting between the two back in October of 2008 when New Orleans beat the Chargers in London.
Noteworthy - Drew Brees hasn't had a game without a TD pass since Oct. 4, 2009, against the New York Jets. With one TD pass against the Chargers Brees will break Johnny Unitas’ record of consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Saints Coach Sean Payton will be in attendance Sunday night when the Saints host the Chargers.
The Chargers have beaten the Raiders, Titans and Chiefs. I know that the Chiefs beat the Saints and then the Chargers beat the Chiefs, but realistically San Diego has not really been tested this season, unless you consider a 27-3 blowout loss at home to Atlanta test!
1. Whatever it takes to win, do it! If the appearance of Coach Payton gives the team a boost, if we get a call in our favor, if we win on a Hail Mary, whatever it takes the Saints have to win. There are no more “this is not a must win” pressers, this team must win 10 of the next 12 weeks, and that still might not be enough. That’s the flat out truth and everyone knows it!
2. Put the bull in the pen! The Saints have one bull in their offensive backfield and his name is Chris Ivory. I’m not a coach and I’m sure I’m easily dismissed, but the Saints are not getting the type of push up-front that they need to rush the ball effectively..and Chris Ivory is the RB who has proven he is the most physical. Yes, Ivory has fumbled the ball before, but the risk of a fumble is far less great than the need to run the football at this point. Give Ivory the rock!
3. Be like the Chargers. San Diego should serve as motivation for the Saints. The Bolts also started the season 0-4 in 1992 and still made the playoffs. Odds are heavily stacked against the Saints, but it has been done before.
4. Do your job! There is no need to throw out numbers or stats, just do your job. The man will be in the house Sunday night, so make him proud. A win before the bye week could go a long way, or at least make everyone have a little hope for at least another two weeks!
5. Defensive improvement? Whether or not you think the Saints defense has been improving, the Saints held the Packers to just 7 points in the last 34-plus minutes of the game. Let's hope that is a sign that the defense has turned the corner.
What they are saying
Saints Coach Aaron Kromer on Chargers run defense:
“San Diego is very good against the run. Last year, we were sixth rushing. It’s an early stat but they are very good against the run. We still need to be able to run the football on them and I think we’re capable.”
Saints QB Drew Brees on breaking Johnny Unitas’ record versus his team’s 0-4 record:
“Yes, obviously if our record were a little bit better. It doesn’t change the significance of the record, but hopefully we can use it as a launch point, a platform for the rest of our season.”
The Big Chief’s Final Analysis – The Saints have to win, don’t they? Sean is going to be in the house. To lose this game would be the end of the season, bar none. Lay the 3 ½ and take the Saints.
San Diego Chargers (3-1) @ New Orleans Saints (0-4)
Last week’s results: San Diego beat Kansas City 37-20 and Green Bay beat New Orleans 28-27
Any way you slice it, the 2012 Tigers are not as good as they were a year ago. Now, we still have half a season to play, but as of right now it's not even close. LSU has many flaws right now they did not have, or at the very least did not show, a season ago.
The Tigers O-Line is beat up and seemingly does not have “that guy” who will take charge and be the needed vocal leaded. The Tigers wide receivers are dropping the ball at consistent rate, and the play of the Tigers QB position is not what it was a season ago.
And when you throw in LSU's inability to convert on third down, the Tigers’ consistent look of confusion during crucial moments in games, and the mental mistakes that come in the form of penalties…this team has a lot of things to clean up.
The good news is that LSU has plenty enough power in it to reach all their season goals. The bad news is that LSU's schedule has plenty enough power left in it so that there will be more days like the Tigers’ 14-6 loss to Florida.
Last year, the Tigers wore teams down, big-played them, and the LSU defense beat people up. Those key things are not happening now, and with the style of play that Coach Miles likes to play, if LSU does not tighten up they will find themselves on the losing end of several more games this season.
With an upcoming game against South Carolina and another road trip to take on rival Texas A&M, LSU could be out of the Western Division conversation by the end of the month.
I am no way shape or form saying that LSU is a bad team. What I am saying is that this team is not as good as they were a year ago and that other teams are better.
To the odds makers, this was an upset. To those who have followed LSU this season, today’s game was a loss in the making. And things will only get tougher starting next week with South Carolina.
Does LSU have to be as good as they were last season to win the SEC West and get into the BCS Title Game? Only time will answer that question. But clearly, this team is just not as good!
It’s hard to imagine that we are crossing over the halfway point of the 2012 prep football season. All teams have already begun district play, or will begin it tonight. Now, with the implementation of the LHSAA Power Point System that began back in 1999, district titles don’t carry the same weight when filling out the playoff field in each of the five classes. But winning a district title is without question a special goal that is on the short list of things for teams to accomplish during a season.
Many coaches' list of goals includes having a winning record or being undefeated through non-district play, winning their district, and earning a spot in the playoffs...and of course, the ultimate goal is to win a state title.
Tonight my show will originate from the place where I cut my teeth, the place that I call home, and of course the place I went to school and graduated from...That is Amite High School. The Warriors will host their long-time arch rival Independence in a clash of district 8-3A powers.
The district used to belong to just Amite and Independence, but over the years, other teams (including this year’s favorite Loranger, along with Jewel Sumner and Bogalusa) have all made runs and performed well in the post season.
So tonight I invite you all to stop by 870 AM or FM 105.3 on the radio dial and listen for a spell as the platform that has brought us Peyton, Eli, Ed Reed, Kevin Faulk, Herb Tyler, Jackie Smith and many, many other greats takes place starting at 7:00 p.m. It’s the All-State Sugar Bowl Prep Football Round-up, and it is where all the stars of the BCS and the Super Bowl get their start.
Below are the games that our fine reporters will be covering games throughout the state of Louisiana this evening.
St. Charles Catholic @ Donaldsonville
Cohen @ Riverside
Notre Dame @ Jennings
South Plaquemines @ Isidore Newman
Evangel Christian @ B. T. Washington
Archbishop Hannan @ Southern Lab
Berwick @ N. Vermillion
Northlake Christian @ Pine
St. Amant @ Dutchtown
Bastrop @ Neville
Jesuit @ Chalmette
Brother Martin @ West Jefferson
Higgins @ Destrehan
Lutcher @ Istrouma
Breaux Bridge @ St. Martinville
Helen Cox @ Edna Karr
Archbishop Shaw @ Belle Chase
Brusly @ E. D. White
The 49ers and Bears had the best performances by far in week four, and the NFC West has passed up every other division with 11 total wins which is tops in the league after four weeks. Let’s take a look at this week’s top ten.
1. Houston Texans (4-0) – Alert: Houston has no problem! The Texans are the most complete team in the NFL right now. The Texans are solid on offense, nasty on defense, and they are in a weak division. That means this team is going to win a lot of games. Last week beat Tennessee 38-14 / this week @ NY Jets.
2. Atlanta Falcons (4-0) – Bird bird bird, the bird is the word! These birds are for real. This could be the year the Black Birds from the ATL get it done. You know, the last dude to give himself a nickname featuring the word “ice” was Robert Van Winkle…That would be Vanilla Ice! Oh snaps, that’s a curse within itself, Matty ‘’Ice Ice’’ Baby! Last week beat San Diego 27-3 / this week vs. Carolina.
3. Arizona Cardinals (4-0) – Arizona is a team that is finding ways to win games. Even though this team only rushed for 28 yards and was down by two scores, they found a way to beat the Dolphins. Look out Frisco, this team could be a legit challenger in the now Wild Wild West! Last week beat Miami 24-21 in overtime / this week @ St. Louis Thursday night.
4. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) – The Ravens got a scare last week as the pesky Browns gave them all they could handle. Now the Ravens look like they can feast this week on the struggling KC Chiefs. Last week beat Cleveland 23-16 / this week @ Kansas City.
5. San Francisco (3-1) – A good old-fashioned beat-down occurred last week when the 49ers crushed the planes of NY. San Fran held the Jets to just 145 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers. These 49ers are the class of the NFC in my opinion. They have the best defense, they play sound on special teams, and their coach is one tough dude. I thought the Jets wanted to be like that? Last week beat NY Jets 34-0 / this week vs. Buffalo.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) – Mike Vick did not turn the ball over, and that was the main reason the Eagles beat the defending champs. Now the Keystone State title game takes place this week in the Steel City of Pittsburgh. Last week beat NY Giants 19-17 / this week @ Pittsburgh.
7. Chicago Bears (3-1) – The second most impressive showing of the week came from the Monsters of the Midway. The Bears Defense harassed Tony Romo and picked him off five times. I’m telling you, this team is good! I could see another Green Bay vs Bears NFC Title Game happening this season. Last week beat Dallas 34-18 / this week @ Jacksonville.
8. San Diego Chargers (3-1) – The Chargers bounced back from their loss to the ATL with a big road win over the Chiefs. The Bolts forced five first-half turnovers and built a 27-6 lead. Now the Chargers can distance themselves from the rest of the AFC West and put to sleep the Who Dats for good with a win in the Big Easy. Will Phillip Rivers be the first QB not to carve up the Saints D? Last week beat Kansas City37-20 / this week @ New Orleans.
10. (Tie)Cincinnati (3-1) & New England (2-2) – The Bengals have the best young QB/WR duo in the game today. As long as Dalton and Green stay healthy and together, the Bengals will be relevant. Last week beat Jacksonville 27-10 / this week vs. Miami.
New England scored 35 straight points and piled up 580 yards of total offense in their come from behind win over the Bills. Man, what will Pats fans do when Tom retires? This week an old QB shootout rivalry continues as Peyton and the horses come to Clam Chowder land. Last week beat Buffalo 52-28 / this week vs Denver.