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Steve Geller

"WWL First News" Sports Anchor
Weekdays 5am-10am

"Sports Talk" Producer
Weekdays 4pm-8pm

Twitter: @stevegellerWWL
Email: steve@wwl.com

Steve: Will Chiefs tomahawk the Saints' win streak?

Sunday October 23rd, 12pm on 870AM / 105.3FM
Arrowhead Stadium – Kansas City, Missouri
Saints -6.5 Under / Over: 50.5

The 2-3 Saints quest to get even on the season leads them to Kansas City in week 7 to do battle against the 3-2 Chiefs, a tough team that has a tough venue. Arrowhead Stadium will be loud & proud, full of war chants from a sea of red that wants to see their team keeping up with the Joneses in the Wild Wild West of the AFC.

Denver and Oakland are 4-2; San Diego 2-4. K.C. averages 22 points and the offense is ranked 17th overall in the NFL (14th rushing / 19th passing) while churning out 352 yards per game. Good ole' Alex Smith is at the helm for the Chiefs. Yeah, this guy…

He is completing 67% of his throws this year and has 1,297 yards passing with 5 TDs and 2 INTs. He can run but the 32 year old has gained just 15 yards thus far. That's because the Chiefs are chock full of running backs, including a former LSU Tiger. Spencer Ware is the team's leading rusher with 415 yards and 2 scores; but has fumbled 3 times. Charcandrick West has only gotten 15 hand-offs but makes the most of them as he averages 5.5 yards a carry. Then there's Jamal Charles. This is his 3rd game back from an injury and his carries could see an uptick. He carried the ball twice in his first game back then nine times last week with a TD. Scary runner when healthy and has been known to rip off big yardage vs. the Black & Gold.

Kansas City wide receiver Jeremy Maclin followed Coach Andy Reid from Philadelphia to KC so knows the offense well. He has 23 grabs for 293 yards and a score. Tight end Travis Kelce is the team's leading receiver with 25catches for 252 yards and 2 TDs. Chris Conley, Albert Wilson, Tyreek Hill are all young WRs who have double-digit grabs, but only the rookie Hill has found the end zone and has done it twice. Watch for him in the return game as well; kid has speed.
The Chiefs D is 14th overall (12th vs. the pass / 24th vs. the run) and are tied for the lead in the NFL with 9 interceptions.

What's scary is they could be even better if they could find a pass rush having registered just 7 sacks. The good news for them is that the answer is walking through the door as linebacker Justin Houston is finally back at practice following knee surgery. However; he is unlikely to play this week. They still have quite a few studs on this side of the ball, starting with corner Marcus Peters who already has 5 interceptions this season after getting 8 with 2 scores in his rookie year.

Linebacker Derrick Anderson is still getting it done at a high level in his 12th NFL season. The 2005 1st round draft pick leads the team in tackles with 40 and has 1 sack, 2 passes defended, 1 interception and a touchdown. Eric Berry is also lurking in the Chiefs secondary. The 27 year old is one of the best safeties in the game today.

I do not like the match-up for the Saints since the Chiefs pass defense is their strength. KC just shut down Derek Carr and the Raiders in Oakland. I haven't seen enough from the Black & Gold's run game to make me believe that it can carry the team to victory in Arrowhead.

Chiefs 27 Saints 24

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Steve: Sheldon Rankins returns to Saints practice

Saints 1st round draft pick Sheldon Rankins broke his leg during training camp and has healed enough to return to the practice field today, per head coach Sean Payton. He should provide a much welcome boost to the NFL's 31st overall defense.

Rankins was initially placed on injured reserve, but can be the one player to return to action for the Black & Gold from IR this season. However, league rules state that the earliest that the defensive tackle will actually be able to play in a game is week 9 at San Francisco.

The 6ft2, 287 pounder out of Louisville had a memorable moment the first day of joint practices with the Patriots in New England this offseason. He picked off a Tom Brady pass and returned it for a score, silencing the Pats faithful at Foxborough in attendance that day. Rankins tallied 14 sacks with 26.5 tackles for loss in his final 2 years of college.

Photo via USA TODAY
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Steve: Carolina clawing for victory against rested Saints

Carolina clawing for victory against rested Saints
Sunday, October 16th, 12pm on 870AM / 105.3FM
Mercedes Benz Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana
Saints -3 Under / Over: 53.5

The defending NFC champs are headed to the Superdome this Sunday. But it's a new year and 2016 hasn't been kind to the Carolina Panthers. There's been no "dabbing" this season as they sit at the bottom of the division with a record of 1-4. Super-Cam got concussed in week 4 when former LSU heavy hitter Debo Jones unloaded on him at the goal line. Give Newton credit though; he seemed to just absorb the blow like Marvel's Luke Cage and still surged forward into the endzone.

Cam looks to be on track to start this week against the Saints and the Panthers definitely need the league MVP. The offense is ranked 3rd in the NFL overall (6th rushing / 10th passing) and average 25 points a game. You would think their PPG would be higher; but Carolina's turned the ball over a league high 14 times. A large part of that falls on Newton as he has thrown 5 interceptions to his 6 TDs and has lost a fumble. His most trusted target is tight end Greg Olsen. Sean Payton praised the guy's passion, toughness along with his ability. Olsen has caught 33 passes for 516 yards and 2 scores this year.

Kelvin Benjamin missed all of his sophomore season due to injury but has looked good in his return as he leads the team with 4 TD receptions. He isn't getting much help from the rest of the WRs as Corey Brown, Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn Jr. have combined for 29 receptions and 2 scores.

Over in the running back group, old nemesis Jonathan Stewart is making his way back from a hamstring injury and is on track to be active this Sunday. Fozzy Whitaker leads the team currently with 186 yards rushing but has not scored a TD. He is also active in the passing game, having hauled in 19 passes for 164 yards; but still no endzone. Newton is 2nd in rushing yards with 147 and 2 scores; while Cameron Artis-Payne has the most attempts with 36 and has gained 144 yards to go along with 2 touchdowns that he scored this past Monday Night Football.

The Panthers defense is still tough to contend with; they just haven't been great. They are ranked 12th overall (10th vs. the run / 15th vs. the pass) and surrender 27 points a game. Carolina has 11 sacks with 5 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and have managed 2 defensive scores. It's easy to blame the secondary since Josh Norman, Peanut Tillman and Roman Harper are gone, but the defensive line hasn't been able to apply the same amount of pressure it did a year ago. Linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis remain the centerpieces of this unit. Kuechly is 2nd in the league in tackles with 57 along with 1 sack, 3 passes defended and 1 INT.

Carolina is quite comfy in the confines of the Superdome. They've been triumphant the last 2 times they've visited and I foresee a 3rd straight victory this Sunday. It should be close but I have more faith in the Panthers defense to make a stop. The Saints give up on average 423 yards and 32.5 points per game. The fact that this is a home game means nadda either. The Dome field advantage is non-existent. The Black & Gold are is 4-11 in their last 15 games there. (Thanks for that tid-bit @pboron88)

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Steve: Anthony Davis hurt in Pelicans preseason contest

A slew of injuries decimated the Pelicans last season and it may just be the preseason right now; but more of the same problems for the birds.

Anthony Davis left this morning's preseason contest in China after just 6 minutes of playdue to a sprained right ankle. Following the game ESPN's Marc Spears tweeted a photo and update on AD: That means it is possible that Davis won't be ready for the regular season-opener when the Pels host the Denver Nuggets on Oct. 26. The big man missed the final 14 games of last season after he suffered a left knee injury that required offseason surgery. ​

Photo via USA TODAY
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Steve: Saints, Panthers both looking to dig out of NFC South cellar

Let's hope the Saints come back off the bye week packed with some extra punch, because they are headed in for a heck of a tough trek the remaining 12 games of the season. They get to at least begin the treacherous journey in the Superdome this Sunday; however, home field advantage hasn't meant much recently.

Carolina comes to town a wounded cat. The Panthers are also off to a less than stellar start to the 2016 season. Monday night's home loss to the Buccaneers dropped the defending NFC champs to 1-4. Last year's league MVP Cam Newton is still working his way back from a concussion. The offense has been churning out the yards but is turning the ball over at a high rate. Meanwhile, the defense is good, but hasn't been a dominant force like last year.

Will Sean Payton rally his 1-3 Saints squad to a 2nd straight victory that would snap a 2 game home losing skid? Following the bye under a Payton-coached team the Black & Gold are 4-5. They did manage to achieve a win coming off a break in 2012 when he was suspended.

Carolina has won the last 3 in this series and have even knocked off New Orleans in the Superdome the last 3 match-ups. Both teams are looking up at 2-3 Tampa Bay and 4-1 Atlanta in the NFC South.
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Steve: Fournette unlikely to play in LSU-Florida game

There seems to be a quite a storm brewing around LSU's road game this weekend at #18 Florida.

Hurricane Matthew could put a crimp in plans for playing at noon EST on Saturday, and the Tigers will probably be without a big offensive weapon in "The Swamp."

Interim head Coach Ed Orgeron said on the SEC teleconference this morning that Leonard Fournette was unlikely to play in the game; but things could change.

The running back has not practiced at all this week, or for that matter, last week either. We saw him in pain at the end of the Auburn game as he reaggravated an existing left ankle injury.

Fournette initially sprained that ankle in preseason camp; then bruised it in the season opener. Last season against Florida he ran for 180 yards and 2 scores.

Photo via USA TODAY
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Steve: Will the Saints survive a shoot-out in San Diego?

Sunday, October 2nd, 3:25pm on 870AM / 105.3FM
Qualcomm Stadium – San Diego, California
Saints +4      Under / Over: 53.5 

Alright, for real, this week is gut-check time for the Saints. The first quarter of the season will end on Sunday, and 0-4 is not acceptable. They are a team with everything against them at the moment and need this win in the worst way. Adding to their injury woes is a poorly timed trip to the west coast on a short week after playing on Monday night. Who schedules that?! 

They’ll face a Chargers ballclub that is off to a 1-2 start. San Diego lost on the road to the Chiefs and Colts, but lit up the Jaguars in their home opener for a victory. We constantly hear coaches and players talk about having a balanced offensive attack - well San Diego has found that groove.  

They are ranked 17th overall in the league and are 12th running the ball coupled with a passing attack ranked 15th. Philip Rivers has completed 69% of his passes for 789 yards with 5 touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s 1-2 against the Saints all-time, throwing 5 TDs vs. 2 INTs. Rivers and the Chargers will likely be without their star tight end Antonio Gates and are also down receiver Keenan Allen and running back Danny Woodhead. This is the reason injuries are never an excuse with teams, because they all have them.

Who Rivers does have at WR? There is Travis Benjamin, who is a new addition after suffering through 4 years in Cleveland.  He’s the team’s leading receiver right now with 17 receptions for 229 yards and 2 scores. Be wary of his speed because he can make you look silly and come through with the tough grab.  
Tyrell Williams is 6ft4, 205 lbs and in his second season out of Western Oregon. His targets have gone up every week and has made 11 catches for 201 yards and 1 TD so far. Rookie tight end Hunter Henry will surely get a lot more looks without Gates in the lineup.  Henry was drafted in the 2nd round out of Arkansas and has an impressive 96 yards on 6 receptions but has still not found the endzone. 
The Yin to Rivers' Yang has been Melvin Gordon. The 2nd year running back needs to get his yards per carry up but has plowed into the endzone 4 times.  To go along with his 194 yards rushing, Gordon has also been active in the passing game, making 7 catches for 61 yards. With Woodhead on the shelf, the team signed Dexter McCluster to fill that role. The pass catching back snagged 2 receptions in his debut last week.

Rivers and the Chargers suffer from the same problem as Brees and the Saints; no defense.  San Diego’s D is ranked 25th overall (6th vs the run / 30th vs. the pass) and are allowing 24 points per game.  They’ve been able to put pressure on QBs, as they’ve tallied 7 sacks, but the secondary is still getting torched for 322 passing yards a game.  That’s even worse than the Saints, who allow 299! 

PREDICTION: I thought there was no way the Saints would lose last week and got burnt. At least the Black & Gold are a little healthier heading into this match-up and that is enough of a positive nugget for me to believe they will get the job done in San Diego. With two gunslingers going at it against vulnerable defenses, the score should be high.  The last time Drew Brees played in “The Q” he was carrying his right arm off the field because of a shoulder injury that threated the rest of his career. The Chargers let him walk out the door in free agency and the Who Dat Nation cannot thank them enough. Sure that was 10 years ago, but this is his first game back on that field. For that reason I can’t go against the uber-competitive Brees in this one. He might have to play some special teams or defense in order to pull it out but somehow, someway; New Orleans makes it happen. Saints 38 Chargers 34!
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Steve: Will fried Falcon be on Saints' Monday night menu?

Sunday, September 26th, 7:30pm on 870AM / 105.3FM
Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, LA
Saints -3      Under / Over: 54

In case you’ve forgotten, the last time the Saints won ANY type of football game was the final contest of the season last year in Atlanta. That victory sealed the sweep of the season series for the Black & Gold. It’s also the last time New Orleans has finished with a “W” when the clock hit zero. Nothing doing in the preseason and 0-2 entering week 3.

Now those Dirty Birds come to town for a Monday Night football match-up that is sure to be your typical nail biter for the Who Dat Nation.  The Saints usually come out on top, but we’ve seen a ton of the unusual already this season to rest too comfortably on history.   

The ATL enters week 3 with a 1-1 record. They lost in their opener at home to the Bucs; then took down the Raiders in Oakland last week. Their biggest issue on defense has been the same as the Saints; generating a consistent pass rush. New Orleans has DOUBLED their sack production this season… but then again, Atlanta has just 1 so far. The Falcons defense comes to town ranked 29th overall in the NFL (26th vs. the run / 22nd vs. the pass) and is allowing on average 29.5 points per contest. We should witness Dr. Drew Brees surgically placing passes all over the field and hopefully he gets a pulse for a run game that has a whole 35 attempts in 2 games. 

Over on the Falcons offense you’ll find them just as feisty a bunch as the Saints. They are ranked #2 (1st passing / 17th rushing) after 2 weeks, scoring a total of 59 points. Matt Ryan has been anything but ice as he leads the NFL with a 121.4 quarterback rating. He is completing 73% of his passes and has 730 yards with 5 touchdowns vs 1 interception.  His main man is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL - Julio Jones has 9 catches for 172 yards with 2 scores and will be yet another mountain the Saints injury decimated secondary must climb after putting up a heck of a fight last week against Eli and OBJ.  
Ryan has been spreading the ball around a-la-Brees. Tight end Jacob Tamme leads the team in receptions with 11 for 126 yards.  Rookie TE Austin Hooper has caught 4 balls with 2 going for plus 20. Trash talking Roddy White is gone and the new #2 WR is Mohamed Sanu. The 27 year spent his first 4 seasons in Cincinnati and it fitting in just fine in Atlanta.  He has made 8 catches for 99 yards and had a real pretty TD grab in week 1.  
Atlanta has a dual threat in the backfield the Saints D can’t under estimate either.   Young RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman can hurt you even though they have a combined 181 yards rushing and 1 score after 2 games. Coleman is also heavily involved in the passing game as he has 7 catches for 120 yards. 

Prediction: THE SAINTS WILL NOT LOSE THIS GAME. They are 0-2… its prime time… in the Superdome… and against the Atlanta Falcons. Add to that recipe of some tasty dirty bird gumbo the fact it’s the 10 year anniversary of the reopening of the Dome following Hurricane Katrina. Emotions will be bursting at the seams as fans remember back, coupled with needing a win in the worst way this year to get that Who Dat pep back in their step.  
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Steve: Fee fi fo fum - can Saints stop Giants pass and run?

Sunday, September September 18th, 12pm on 870AM / 105.3FM
Met Life Stadium – Secaucus, NJ
Saints +4.5      Under / Over: 53

The 0-1 Saints week two match-up pits them against a 1-0 New York Giants team that New Orleans has had great success against in the Sean Payton / Drew Brees era.  Since 2006, the Black & Gold are 4-1 against Big Blue; the lone loss came in 2012 when Payton was suspended for the season.  Last year the 2 teams combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense and 101 points in video game-like sizzler in the Superdome.  Wouldn’t you know, the two defenses would wind up finishing at the very bottom of the NFL!

New York emptied out the Brinks truck in free agency, dropping $200 million dollars on some defensive players who they feel will make a change to a unit that ranked 32nd overall in the NFL (32nd vs the pass / 24th vs the run) while giving up on average of 28 points per game. What’s most surprising about this Steve Spagnulolo-steered group is that they were good at creating turnovers by picking off 15 passes along with recovering 12 fumbles. The big fish landed in free agency was pass rusher Olivier Vernon, who with a healthier Jason-Pierre Paul, make for quite the lethal weapons at defensive end.  

When talking about the D-line, you also can’t forget about the addition of Damon Harrison, who grew up in New Iberia. Great story of a guy who went undrafted out of William Penn University and has grown into a monster in the middle of the D-line. The 6ft4, 350 lb DTs nickname is “Snacks" and while his name might not appear on the stat sheet much, he makes everyone around him better. The 3rd piece the team brought on board in free agency was corner Janoris Jenkins. He’s known for making the pick big 6, but is ultra-aggressive and can be torched often. A little Brees pump fake and he’ll probably bite. 

The Giants offense was cooking in 2016 as they finished ranked 8th overall (7th passing / 18th rushing) and scored 26 points per game. Eli Manning had a Pro Bowl season throwing for 4,400 yards with 35 touchdowns vs. 14 interceptions. 13 of those TD passes went to one of the best WRs in the game today. LSU fans know and love Odell Beckham Jr. very well.  The league has bowed to his huge hands since he was drafted 12th overall by New York in 2014.  

With the return of Victor Cruz, who has fought to get back on the field after a two year absence, along with 2nd round draft pick Sterling Shepard out of Oklahoma; the G-men’s offense looks to be even more potent this season. Keep your eyes on Shepard. The kid is 5ft10, 198 lbs. and Sean Payton has compared him to Randall Cobb in Green Bay. Shepard has received a fair amount of hype entering the season since he plays in the Giants' pass-heavy system.  
New York’s run game was a combination of Rashaad Jennings and Shane Vereen in week 1. Last year they combined for 1,100 yard rushing and gained 4 yards a carry. Vereen also caught 59 passes for 495 yards and 3 scores. Former Tulane Green Wave, Orleans Dawrka remains on the roster but didn’t take the field last game.

Applying pressure to QBs has been the Saints' biggest problem and we didn’t see much of it in week one vs. Oakland. Add that to the fact that the group crumbled when top corner Delvin Breux left the game, and week two looks like another L to me. The Giants have a sniper along with plenty of ammo to pepper the Black & Gold’s young CBs. Sure, Drew & krewe can keep up but I just see Brees being forced into more bad decisions than Eli. GIANTS 38 SAINTS 27 
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Steve: After Spiller release, Saints lead NFL in dead money

Throw some more stacks of money into the Saints dead cap furnace. After releasing running back CJ Spiller, the franchise has added $4.5 million dollars of dead cap space this year, and also $2.5 million in 2017. 
The $40 million dollar total of dead money this year is tops in the NFL. Coming in a distant 2nd with $28 million in dead cash is the franchise many consider the worst run in football... the Cleveland Browns.  

What did the Saints get for their money out of Spiller? 112 rushing yards and 239 receiving with 2 scores.
What ended up being Sean Payton's reason for Spiller's dismissal? 

"This guy’s a phenomenal guy and teammate," said Payton.  "I think he’s going to have an opportunity sooner rather than later with another club, and yet, the window in this building or this club is not definitely closed. Obviously, last season was frustrating because he dealt with the injury in training camp. I think he is ahead of where he was a year ago and gotten better than he was a year ago and yet it just became a challenge for us when we were looking at actives and roles and that was really it.”
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