Category Archives: New Orleans Saints

NFL Week 6 Power Rankings

The NFL season continues to move along. Week 5 saw some surprising finishes, but there are still a pair of undefeated teams that remain. After those two powerhouses, the NFL power rankings are muddied a bit. We take a look at teams 1-10 again this week, trying to sort out who is for real and which teams still have a bit more to prove:

1) The Los Angeles Rams           2018 Record: 5-0          Previous Week: 1 ( – )

The Rams were able to hold off their division rival, the Seattle Seahawks, to move to 5-0. Jared Goff converted a crucial 4th-and-1 late in the 4th quarter on a QB sneak to end the game. The Rams offense has been amazingly efficient, as they lead the NFL in yards per offensive play (7.4) and rank T-4th in fewest turnovers lost (5). Goff ranks 2nd in the league in passer rating (119.7); behind only Drew Brees. The Rams defense also currently ranks 6th in points allowed (19.6 PPG) and has allowed the 3rd fewest attempts inside the red zone (12).

2) The Kansas City Chiefs          2018 Record: 5-0          Previous Week: 2 ( – )

The Chiefs rolled right through the Jags 30-14 and remain one of two unbeaten teams. Kansas City’s defense stepped up big, intercepting Blake Bortles four times. The Chiefs defense came into the game with only two interceptions in the team’s first four games. Patrick Mahomes  had his first game this year without a TD and threw his first two interceptions of the season, but was able to get enough offense going to down the Jags. The Chiefs offense ranks 2nd in points per game (35.0) and ranks T-1st in fewest turnovers (3). The Chiefs are also the 3rd most efficient team at scoring inside the red zone (76.2%).

3) The New Orleans Saints        2018 Record: 5-0         Previous Week: 9 ( +6 )

Drew Brees, this week, became the new all-time leader in passing yards in the NFL. He did so in a 43-19 drubbing of the Redskins in the Superdome. Brees leads this Saints offense that ranks 1st in points per game (36.0) and 2nd in first downs (128). The Saints also got RB Mark Ingram back this week from suspension, and he contributed immediately rushing for two TDs. Brees found rookie WR Tre’Quan Smith three times for 111 yards and two scores, the first of which a 62 yard TD that gave his QB the all-time passing yards record.

4) The Chicago Bears            2018 Record: 3-1            Previous Week: 3 ( -1 )

The Bears had a week four bye after their week three win over the Bucs. For a team that came into the season with modest expectations, the Bears find themselves ranking 2nd in scoring defense (16.3 PPG) and have allowed the fewest trips inside the red zone (7). The Bears’ next matchup is a Dolphins team that ranks 28th in scoring (19.8 PPG).

5) The Cincinnati Bengals           2018 Record: 4-1          Previous Week: 5 ( – )

The Bengals moved to 4-1 after overcoming a 17-0 2nd half deficit to beat the Dolphins. A Bengals defense, which has struggled this season, blanked the Fins for the final 24 plus minutes of game time. The Bengals’ only blemish thus far was a loss on the road in Carolina. The Bengals rank 4th in scoring offense (30.6 PPG) and continues to have a top five scoring offense in the red zone (70.6%).

6) The New England Patriots        2018 Record: 3-2           Previous Week: NR

The Patriots, after some early season offensive struggles, have rebounded with back-to-back wins. They dominated the Dolphins last Sunday, and then beat the Colts last Thursday on a short week to move to 3-2. In the process, the Pats have moved to 6th in red zone scoring (68.8%) and rank 9th in points per game (26.6). The Patriots defense also ranks 9th in scoring (21.6) and has forced 10 turnovers (6th).

7) The Los Angeles Chargers         2018 Record: 3-2         Previous Week: NR

The Chargers took down the Raiders this past week to move to 3-2. Philip Rivers currently ranks 3rd in the NFL at QB rating (116.4) and leads this Chargers offense that ranks 8th in scoring (27.4 PPG). The Chargers offense has also taken care of the football, ranking T-4th in turnovers lost (5). The 2018 Bolts’ defense are T-10th in turnovers (8), and their only two losses have come against the Chiefs and Rams.

8) The Carolina Panthers          2018 Record: 3-2          Previous Week: NR

This past Sunday, the Panthers held off a Giants team desperate for a win. Graham Gano kicked a game-winning 63 yard FG with 0:01 remaining. The Panthers offense ranks 12th in scoring offense (26.0 PPG), and have only committed four turnovers thus far, which is good for 3rd in the NFL. The Panthers defense is ranked 15th in scoring defense (22.8 PPG) and is T-5th best at stopping conversions on 3rd down (30.8%).

9) The Jacksonville Jaguars         2018 Record: 3-2         Previous Week: 4 ( -5 )

The Jaguars hit a lofty speed bump in their 2018 season last week, falling to the red hot Chiefs 30-14. The Jags have had trouble scoring this season; their 20.4 PPG ranks 26th in the league. That said, they still rank T-3rd in scoring defense (17.2 PPG) and are the 2nd stingiest team on defense inside the red zone (33.3%). That defense is also the 6th best in the NFL at getting off the field on 3rd down (30.8%).

10) The Baltimore Ravens           2018 Record: 3-2           Previous Week: 6 ( -4 )

The Ravens lost a tough, divisional game on the road in OT this past week to a reinvigorated Cleveland Browns team. The Ravens struggled mightily on 3rd down (4/16) against their division foe. The Ravens defense, however, still ranks 1st in scoring defense (15.4 PPG) and 1st at getting off the field on 3rd down (28.8%). Their defense is also T-3rd fewest red zone attempts allowed (12). The Ravens offense has come up big inside the red zone, ranking T-8th in converting red zone scores (65.0%).

Washington Redskins vs. New Orleans Saints Monday Night Football Preview

History can be made to close Week 5 of the NFL season when the Redskins visit the Saints in a showdown of NFC division leaders on Monday Night Football. Saints quarterback Drew Brees needs 201 passing yards to become the NFL’s all-time leader, a record currently held by Peyton Manning with 71,940 yards. Brees comes into this game third on the all-time list and he needs just 99 yards to pass Brett Favre en route to Manning.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins claimed first place in the NFC East while enjoying their bye week and they’re looking for back-to-back victories following a 31-17 Week 3 win over the Packers on September 23. The Redskins got pressure on Aaron Rodgers for most of the game, sacking him four times, led by two from defensive end Jonathan Allen.

Alex Smith completed 12 of 20 passes for 220 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, adding 20 yards on the ground on seven carries, veteran running back Adrian Peterson had a strong game with 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries and tight ends Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed combined to make six catches for 135 yards.

The Redskins are averaging 245.3 passing yards (18th in the NFL) and 137.7 rushing yards (5th). Washington ranks 23rd with 21.3 points per game and 2nd with 14.7 points against. Alex Smith has passed for 767 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception, Adrian Peterson has 236 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 56 carries and Jordan Reed has 14 receptions for 168 yards and one touchdown. Mason Foster has 27 tackles and Matt Ioannidis has three sacks.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints bounced back from their 48-40 Week 1 loss against the Buccaneers with three straight wins, including last Sunday’s 33-18 road victory over the Giants. Drew Brees was the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season after Dan Marino, he’s one of only five signal-callers to reach that milestone and the only one to do so in multiple seasons with five.

At 39 years old Brees has shown no signs of slowing down, although his numbers against the Giants were not that impressive by his standards. Brees completed 18 of 32 passes for a season-low 217 yards and no touchdowns, ending a 10-game streak with at least one but he was still effective enough with Alvin Kamara‘s help to lead the Saints on three second-half touchdown drives. Kamara finished with career-highs of 134 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

The Saints are averaging 313.8 passing yards (7th in the NFL) and 104.5 rushing yards (18th). New Orleans ranks 3rd with 34.3 points per game and 29th with 30.3 points against. Drew Brees has passed for 1295 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions, Alvin Kamara has 275 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 56 carries and Michael Thomas has 42 receptions for 445 yards and three touchdowns. Demario Davis has 37 tackles and Cameron Jordan has four sacks.

NFL Trends:

The Washington Redskins are:

4-0 ATS in their last four games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game

6-2 ATS in their last eight road games against a team with a winning home record

9-4 ATS in their last 13 games against a team with a winning record

6-0 ATS in their last six meetings

4-0 ATS in their last four meetings in New Orleans

The New Orleans Saints are:

1-4 ATS in their last five home games

1-4 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win

2-9 ATS in their last 11 games in Week 5

1-5 ATS in their last six Monday games

The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between these two teams and the Redskins have a much-improved defense with a strong defensive line led by Jonathan Allen that can generate enough pressure on Drew Brees. Alex Smith always takes care of the football and although he may not have a cannon like Patrick Mahomes, he keeps defenses alert while exploiting mismatches in the middle of the field. Brees will break the all-time record for passing yards but the Redskins will cover the spread.

NFL Pick: Redskins +6.5 (-110)

Odds via Jazz Sports

Jake Walker runs OddsandNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@Walker_J23)

NFL Week 5 Power Rankings

The NFL season is a quarter way finished, and we are down to only two unbeaten teams: the Rams and the Chiefs. Those teams were 1-2 in last week’s rankings, and there isn’t any good reason to change that this week. But as for positions 3-10, a little shakeup this week as per usual, and some surprising entrants into the top five and top ten. Will the Patriots or Packers re-enter the list after dominant performances against AFC East competitors? Which teams crack the top ten for the first time in 2018? Full list:

1) The Los Angeles Rams          2018 Record: 4-0          Previous Week: 1 ( – )

The Rams took down the Vikings last Thursday to move to 4-0 this year. Jared Goff racked up over 450 yards and five TDs, finishing the game with a perfect passer rating. The Rams defense was finally tested, but their high powered offense proved too much for Minnesota to overcome. The Rams rank 2nd in the league in points per game (35.0) and also have the most 1st downs (105) through the first four weeks. The Rams are tied for 3rd in the NFL with a +4 turnover margin, and are also T-2nd best in the league at converting on 3rd down (48.8%).

2) The Kansas City Chiefs         2018 Record: 4-0          Previous Week: 2 ( – )

The Chiefs appeared to be on their way to their first loss this week at Mile High. That was before Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs down the field for two fourth-quarter TD drives, the second of which was the game-winner capped off by a Kareem Hunt four-yard rushing score. In the process, the Chiefs broke the Broncos‘ streak of 65 straight wins when leading by at least ten points in the 4th quarter. It was also the first time in 37 games that the Broncos had surrendered over 300 net passing yards; which had been the longest streak in football. A full quarter into the 2018 season, it is hard to argue that Patrick Mahomes isn’t the front-runner for NFL MVP.

3) The Chicago Bears           2018 Record: 3-1            Previous Week: 6 ( +3 )

For most of the year, the buzz surrounding the Bears has been focused on their new look defense. This past Sunday, the defense again was dominant, as they held the fiery Buccaneers offense to only ten points. But the bigger story was Mitchell Trubisky’s six TD passes en route to putting up a near 50 burger on the Bucs. The Bears currently rank T-3rd in scoring defense (16.3 PPG) and 8th in scoring offense (27.8 PPG). Perhaps more impressive, the Bears have forced 11 turnovers already on defense while only coughing the ball up five times. That +6 turnover ratio ranks 2nd in the NFL to the Browns.

4) The Jacksonville Jaguars           2018 Record: 3-1          Previous Week: 4 ( – )

The Jags dominated the Jets this past Sunday, nearly doubling them up in time of possession. Blake Bortles was able to connect with Dede Westbrook nine times for 130 yards. Bortles also found Donte Moncrief five times for 109 yards, most of which came from a big 67 yard TD pass late in the 3rd quarter. I don’t think we learned a whole ton about the Jags this week that we didn’t already know. Four games in, the Jags have the best scoring defense in the league (14.0 PPG). They also commit too many penalties and have turned the ball over seven times already. Their -4 turnover margin is tied for worst in the NFL.

5) The Cincinnati Bengals          2018 Record: 3-1           Previous Week: 8 ( +3 )

The Bengals beat the Falcons this last week in a shootout 37-36. Andy Dalton led a 75 yard game winning TD drive that was capped by a 13 yard score to AJ Green. This Bengals offense has been electric thus far, ranking 4th in the league in scoring (31.5 PPG). They are also the most efficient team inside the 20 yard line, scoring on 11/13 attempts (84.6%). The Bengals are also T-3rd in first downs (98) and are the 5th best team converting 3rd downs (46.5%). The upcoming schedule for this red hot offense looks promising. They play a Miami team next week that was just routed by the Patriots. After that, their next four opponents all are among the bottom eight teams in points allowed (PIT, KC, TB, and NO).

6) The Baltimore Ravens            2018 Record: 3-1           Previous Week: 9 ( +3 )

The Ravens secured a huge win Sunday night in Pittsburgh, downing the Steelers and holding them to only 47 second-half yards. The Ravens defense stepped up huge down the stretch, and Joe Flacco was able to handle the not so elite Steelers defense for 363 yards and two TDs. He also connected with the speedy John Brown three times for 116 yards and a score, including a 71 yard catch and run in the 2nd quarter. The Ravens are one of two teams, the other being the LA Rams, to rank within the top five for both scoring offense (5th; 30.8 PPG) and scoring defense (T-3rd; 16.3 PPG). The Ravens defense is also 2nd best in the NFL at getting off the field on 3rd down, allowing conversions on just 27.8% of attempts.

7) The Philadelphia Eagles          2018 Record: 2-2          Previous Week: 3 ( -4 )

I do not see a three-point OT loss to a better than expected Titans team as a dagger to this Eagles season. And most weeks, it wouldn’t cause them to slip this far at all. What does worry me slightly is the Eagles rank T-26th in scoring (20.5 PPG) through the first four weeks. Another troubling stat about this Eagles team is they have put the ball on the ground 11 times so far, losing five of those fumbles. Their -3 turnover ratio is T-2nd worst in the league. Defensively, Philly has been solid. They rank 3rd in the league in defensive 3rd down conversions allowed (28.3%) and have only allowed seven scores on 16 red zone attempts. Their 43.8% defensive red zone percent ranks 6th best in the NFL thus far.

8) The Tennessee Titans          2018 Record: 3-1           Previous Week: NR

Last week, I mentioned the Titans were tied with the Jags stout defense for best red zone percentage and best at keeping teams out of the red zone entirely. This past Sunday, they found themselves backed up in the red zone at the end of regulation, but held tough forcing a FG to take the game into OT. Again in OT, the Eagles had a 1st and 10 inside the Tennessee 20, but had to settle for a FG. The Titans defense has come up big inside the 20, allowing a league-best 20% of drives inside the red zone to result in a score. They also rank 6th best in the NFL in overall scoring defense (18.3 PPG). Marcus Mariota led the Titans from 14 points down midway through the 3rd quarter. Mariota finished with 344 yards and three total TDs (1 rushing). He also found his #1 target, the 5th overall pick of 2017’s draft Corey Davis, nine times for 161 yards that included the ten yard score in OT.

9) The New Orleans Saints         2018 Record: 3-1          Previous Week: NR

The Saints took down the Giants this week to move to 3-1. Drew Brees leads this offense that ranks 3rd best in the NFL at 34.3 PPG. Brees has been extremely solid to begin 2018, he has 1295 yards, eight TDs, and zero INTs through the first quarter of 2018. The Saints have also added seven rushing TDs so far, five of those by the 2nd year man Alvin Kamara. Defensively, the Saints haven’t gotten off to as hot of a start this year. They rank 29th in the NFL in points allowed (30.3 PPG) and have surrendered the 3rd most yards through the air through four games.

10) The Green Bay Packers          2018 Record: 2-1-1          Previous Week: NR

The Packers rebounded from a tough loss to the Washington Redskins by blanking the Bills 22-0. That shutout was the Packers’ first in eight years, and included a total of seven sacks of Buffalo rookie QB Josh Allen. The Pack defense also forced three turnovers and held the Bills to just 3/16 on 3rd down. Aaron Rodgers, still suffering the lingering effects from a Week 1 knee sprain, wasn’t his normal self. However, RB Aaron Jones was effective on the ground, running 11 times for 65 yards and a score. He could prove to be a real difference maker going forward for this Packers offense. At the least, he could take some pressure off of Green Bay’s all-pro QB until his knee is 100%. This Packers defense is playing better than last year’s team that ranked 26th in scoring. So far in 2018, they rank 11th in scoring defense (20.8 PPG), are T-9th with five takeaways, and also rank T-4th in the league in sacks (13.0).

Three Quarterbacks You Can Afford To Wait On

Waiting on a quarterback is a common strategy this year, though some quarterbacks are still going way too high in drafts. Let’s take a look at some players who are being over-drafted in ESPN standard leagues:

1) Drew Brees: ESPN ADP: 75.8

The future Hall of Famer finished last year with only 23 touchdowns, which was the fewest he has ever thrown with the Saints. Brees finished 9th in total points among QB’s last season, placing him behind Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford, and Kirk Cousins. He finished only 12 total points higher than Blake Bortles. With a high powered RB arsenal in New Orleans, led by the now 2nd year Alvin Kamara, expect more of the ground game for the Saints, as they look to keep Brees healthy and fresh in their attempt to make it back to the playoffs. At 75 overall, many elite skill players will still be on the board, including some potential breakout rookie RB’s and the occasional WR1.

2) Ben Roethlisberger: ESPN ADP: 89.5

Big Ben was the QB10 last year. However, he finished just a handful of points ahead of Jared Goff in the same amount of games. As one of the more physically imposing QB’s, Big Ben has taken countless big hits over his career. There are quite a few signal callers at least 10 years younger than Roethlisberger, whose bodies haven’t withstood the grind of the NFL for nearly 15 years, as his has. The NFL is a young man’s game, and one just has to wonder when that physical toll is going to catch up to the 6’5” QB. If healthy, with Antonio Brown, Big Ben could win you more than a few games. That being said, at this point in the draft, starters at skill positions will still be abundant.

3) Jimmy Garoppolo: ESPN ADP: 107.1

Jimmy Garoppolo has proven he can win regular season games; people forget he has yet to lose a start in the NFL. What he hasn’t given you proof of, to this point, is that he can put up a top 10 or even top 12 QB season. Right now his ADP is 4 picks lower than 2016’s MVP Matt Ryan. He’s being selected above Phillip Rivers and Dak Prescott, last season’s QB8 and QB11, respectively. Garoppolo may have a bright future in the NFL, but around pick 107 there will still be a solid selection of WR2’s and valuable RB handcuffs.

 

NFC South Round-Up: Falcons, Ryan, Fantasy Sleepers

Matt Ryan took a step back in 2017 under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian but a closer look at the number indicates that his decline might be overblown, writes Brett Rollins of Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Ryan had just a 79.0 passer rating on throws over 20 yards in 2017, compared to a fantastic 136.1 rating in 2016. He also was one of the worst QBs in PFF’s big-time throw category. Still, the site gave him the second-best grade overall at the position last season.

2016 2017
PFF Grade 91.1 (2nd) 90.0 (2nd)
Adjusted Completion Percentage 78.1% (4th) 76.4% (5th)
QB Rating vs. Pressure 86.6 (3rd) 70.8 (14th)
QB Rating Deep 136.1 (1st) 79.0 (21st)
QB Rating Play Action 118.2 (4th) 98.3 (19th)
Big-Time Throw % 5.4% (8th) 3.8% (28th)
Turnover-Worthy Throw % 2.4% (11th) 0.9% (1s

Rollins notes that Ryan was subjected to the worst drop rate in the league on third down and six of his turnovers were on non-turnover worthy throws. In all, the use of slightly different personnel and a bit of positive regression should help to get Ryan closer to his peak this season.

Atlanta Falcons
2017 Wins 10
2018 Win Total (Bovada) 9
Total DVOA rank 3rd

Here’s more on the NFC South:

  • The Falcons backfield is one of the best in the league, though when the team uses Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman together, Ryan’s passing suffers. He had just a 54.5 passer rating with the duo on the field last season. That was actually up from the 39.0 he earned in 2016.
  • The Saints have released running back Terrance West. With Mark Ingram suspended for the first four games, the Saints will need someone to step up and West was thought to be the man for the job. After his release, New Orleans is left with Jonathan Williams, Shane Vereen, Boston Scott, and Trey Edmunds behind breakout star Alvin Kamara.
  • The Panthers made a few additions to their wide receiving corp during the offseason, but this season’s fantasy football sleeper at the position might have already been on the roster, Tristan H. Cockcroft of ESPN.com speculates. The scribe lists Curtis Samuel as a player who could break out this season. In the two post-Kelvin Benjamin-trade games prior to his injury last season, Samuel played 64.6% of the snaps and received a 20.3% target share from Cam Newton.