Who’s Ready for a Wild Finish in the NFC South?

New Orleans Saints DE Payton Turner sacks Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr. Photo Credit: Michael Johnson / Nola.com

Will the real New Orleans Saints please stand up?

I wrote last week how the Saints were “borderline unwatchable” against Arizona.

What’s the opposite of that? Completely watchable? That’s how the Saints played in their 24-0 shutout of the Raiders.

That dominant winand it was dominant – puts the Saints right in the thick of the NFC South hunt. The leaders are the Falcons at 4-4 (the only division foe the Saints have beaten), the Bucs and Saints are tied at 3-5, and the Panthers are 2-6 after an overtime heartbreaker Sunday.

Everybody plays each other one more time. Buckle up.

If you’re like me, with Thanksgiving around the corner, you’re starting to think about ingredients to cook your favorite recipes. So here are two key ingredients for the Saints to keep winning.


If you need a reminder of how strong the Saints’ defense was against the Raiders, it’s this statistic right here:

The Raiders didn’t cross midfield until 2:25 remained in the game.

Derek Carr wasn’t even in at QB anymore; it was Jarrett Stidham in relief. Say no more.

We wanted to see that “swagger” from the whole Saints team, but especially the defense – and boy did they bring it. The energy was palpable, especially after each of their 4 sacks, two by Payton Turner and one by David Onyemata.

That brings their season sack total up to a much more respectable 19, but who’s counting?

A few more nuggets for the defense to use for motivation as Monday night’s home game against Baltimore and QB Lamar Jackson looms:

  • They held Raiders RB Josh Jacobs to 43 rushing yards. But we know the Ravens are a different beast with Lamar Jackson. And the Saints aren’t the best at defending dual-threat QBs even when they’re a highly-ranked defense. (Cue bad memories of Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen last season). The run defense needs to show up again – the Ravens average 165.6 yards rushing per game and 5.7 yards per carry.
  • CB Alontae Taylor kept Davante Adams in check (1 catch for 3 yards). He’s definitely one to keep watching.
  • The Saints won the turnover battle thanks to Tyrann Mathieu’s second-quarter interception (he dropped another one on the Raiders’ final drive), and equally as important, the offense capitalized off the turnover with a touchdown – not a field goal. That’s the complementary football they need to win the NFC South.


New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) eludes Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Divine Deablo (5). Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY

Alvin Kamara woke up big time Sunday.

He scored all three of the Saints’ touchdowns and racked up 158 total yards.

As a whole, the Saints were as balanced as it gets on offense.

32 rushes for 136 yards. 31 passes for 231 yards.

Controlling the clock 34:51 to 25:09.

QB Andy Dalton was not sacked.

But – the elephant in the room. Injuries at WR.

Dennis Allen announced today Michael Thomas is officially on IR with his toe injury. I don’t think Saints fans anywhere are surprised to see this.

But we have to move on. Thomas has played a grand total of three games this season. Caught 16 passes for 171 yards and 3 TDs.

Hopefully we’ll learn more about Jarvis Landry’s status for Monday night. I’d love to see more production from Rashid Shaheed and of course Taysom Hill in the running & receiving game. Good things happen when he’s on the field.

We talked about the Ravens’ rushing offense earlier, but don’t sleep on the Saints’ rushing attack. They average 141.2 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry through eight games. If the Saints can jump out to a lead Monday like they did against the Raiders, running the ball and chewing up clock with Alvin Kamara’s legs will be their best friend.


We’re almost halfway through the football season – Week 9 starts tonight with the undefeated Eagles facing the Texans. (Could it be a game ripe for an upset?!) I’ve always said Thursday Night Football is the ultimate equalizer. Philadelphia is trying to go 8-0, Houston has the worst rushing defense in the NFL, it’s Jalen Hurts’ homecoming …

OK, back to the Saints.

They’re nowhere close to the Eagles in the NFC. However, their goal of winning a division title is still right in front of them. That’s how wild the NFC South is. They got their must-win game. Now it’s time to keep the momentum going and put together a winning streak.

Easier said than done with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens coming to town.

A national TV audience will be watching. Will the Saints be ready Monday night?


Let me know in the comments below:

  • Can the Saints beat the Ravens and gain ground in the NFC South?
  • Who will win the NFC South?

Doubt Payton Turner At Your Own Risk | Saints Draft Series Part 1

We kick off our series on the New Orleans Saints’ 2021 draft picks spotlighting former Houston DE Payton Turner. 

Cougars radio broadcaster Jeremy Branham (UH Learfield IMG) explains how he’s shined under different coaching staffs and schemes at Houston, why being a multi-sport athlete is so valuable for the first-round pick, why Turner’s best football remains in front of him, and much more.

Branham has a unique viewpoint covering the Cougars from the sidelines – you’ll hear in the Random Round his most memorable moment covering Turner, the one skill he needs to improve most, and Branham’s message for the rookie as he arrives in New Orleans.

A new episode is coming FRIDAY featuring Saints second-round pick Pete Werner’s high school coach Rick Streiff from Cathedral in Indianapolis!


  • (4:45) “His stock was roaring up before the start of the draft. When the season ended, was probably considered a 3rd or 4th rounder, and then when people started to watch more film on him and look at all his pro day stuff was when his stock really started climbing.”

  • (7:36) “It wasn’t a matter of can he play in the league or would he go in the first, to me it was just find him a good landing spot where the coaches will put him in a spot to excel and succeed. And now that he is a first-rounder, really the Saints have no choice right, because you have to protect your investment. He’s a kid that deserves everything he gets. I’m really excited for Payton Turner.” 

  • (8:46) “That’s the biggest intangible – how much he really enjoys playing.”

  • (12:20) “Not only is he big, but he covers a lot of ground left arm to right arm. But he also has a burst of quickness that allows him to get into the backfield.”

  • (14:33) “The first two years of Payton Turner’s career he was in a 3-4, and then when Dana Holgorsen came in he kinda changed it to a 4-2-5. It was a 4-3 base, but they ran a lot of 4-2-5 out of it, and he excelled with that defense.”
  • (15:40) “I think he’s going to be more of an edge guy with the ability to move in on pass rushing situations.”
  • (17:10) “That’s one thing I would add about Payton Turner – his best football is far from him.”
  • (19:10) Random Round


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