NEW ORLEANS — It’s Christmas week and what better way to celebrate than by handing out gifts to the New Orleans Saints?
It’s even a very merry holiday season in Saintsville as they’ve climbed to 7-7 and gave us an early Christmas gift by embarrassing Tom Brady so much he went on Santa’s naughty list saying naughty words and breaking toys.
3 days later and the Saints 9-0 win over the Buccaneers still has me floating.
So let’s play football Santa and deliver some gifts….
For Sean Payton, some receivers. Maybe even 2 or 3! Sean has a history of rarely buying receivers for himself so he will really love some new pass catchers. A good sturdy and dependable receiver is like a good winter coat; you can’t truly appreciate it until you don’t have one.
For Marcus Davenport and Michael Thomas the gift of good health. Davenport is the secret sauce to the defense. At times he’s been the best Saints player on the entire team. Davenport has 6.5 sacks in just 8 games, and it’s no coincidence that when he plays and demands attention from opposing offenses, Cam Jordan and David Onyemata thrive like they did Sunday in Tampa. The thought of seeing Davenport healthy for the rest of 2021 and 2022 is incredible with possibilities of quarterbacks getting crushed in the best possible way.
Michael Thomas has barely played the past 2 seasons and his career is at a crossroads. If he can get back healthy, he will be great again. Thomas thrived no matter who threw him the ball between 2018-2020. Other NFL fans called him ‘Slant Boy’ as some sort of insult because they pretended he only caught 7yard slant routes, but you know what would have felt incredible in 2021? Thomas catching about 100 slants. I've never missed short pass receptions so much.
So here’s hoping Santa delivers the Saints these gifts and maybe a playoff spot.
One final word before we get to this week’s game prediction, I’d like to thank all the people who sent me incredibly nice emails and notes about my column following the Saints win over Tampa. It meant a lot to me that it touched so many of you. This little Saints column is really about the emotions, connections, highs, and lows, and the bond the Saints create between all of us. Thanks to Tom and the entire WWLTV.com staff for helping make this column possible.
Saints Fan Mood and Meditation Music: All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey Did you think this week's music wouldn't be Christmas-themed? The Saints destruction of Tom Brady has playoff dreams dancing in our heads and that'd be a heck of a Christmas gift. The older I get the more I've liked Christmas music. One of the great things about having kids is it makes holidays like Christmas and Halloween magical again. Mariah Carey having an iconic Christmas song is weirdly fantastic, just like the possibility of Taysom Hill starting a playoff game. Crank it up and have a Merry Christmas y'all.
The Games Last Week: 5-0 Season: 33-22
New Orleans (-4) vs Miami: The amazing fun we all had Sunday night sort of blocked out just much of a struggle the Saints offense had. The frustrating thing about the Saints offense was there were tons of plays to be made throwing as the Buccaneers committed their entire defense to shutting down the Saints rushing attack. Taysom Hill made a few to Marques Callaway but he missed just as many easy ones to Alvin Kamara. Teams the last 3 weeks of 2021 plan will be, “shut down the Saints running game at all costs, and if Taysom and his hurt finger beat us throwing, so be it.” The Jets were incapable of it because...they are the Jets. Tampa chewed the Saints running game up and spit it back out, allowing only 61 yards on 31 carries.
Can Miami, winners of 6 straight, do it? Probably. Their defense has played very well during their win streak, even if they've faced less than great competition. It isn't like the Saints offense is good.
If the Saints are going to make a serious playoff push Taysom Hill is going to have to play better and Marquez Callaway is going to need to follow up his stellar game in Tampa with another solid performance.
The good news for the Saints defense is Miami is a great match-up for them. The Dolphins are 28th rushing the ball and struggle to throw the ball down the field. They do short quick throws to help their bad offensive line and make things easier on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Saints style of press man-to-man and incredible run defense should give the Dolphins fits.
My biggest question heading into Monday is can the Saints keep up the intensity and focus they used to make Tom Brady turn into an angry toddler? The last time the defense was fantastic against Tom Brady on Halloween, they followed it up by getting set on fire by Matt Ryan in a loss to the Falcons. The Saints will win but it will be an ugly struggle because the 2021 Saints are an incredibly flawed team.
Tennessee (+3.5) vs San Francisco: A Titans win could add more chaos to the NFC playoff picture and chaos is what the Saints need. Titans 24-20
Los Angeles Rams (-3) at Minnesota: The Vikings losing at least 1 more time, maybe twice, is critical for the Saints playoff hopes. It pains me to say 'Go Rams'. Let's never speak of this again.
Philadelphia (-10) vs New York Giants: The Giants might be starting Jake Fromm at quarterback. This might as well be a bye week for the Eagles. Eagles 35-7
Tampa Bay (-11) at Carolina: Tom Brady is going to treat the Panthers worse than he treated that Microsoft tablet. Bucs 31-10