Should we be concerned about Drew Brees and the Saints?


Happy Tuesday, my friend… thanks for coming back to spend another morning with yours truly. I’m dressed in my Tuesday morning best (some salsa-stained sweatpants and an old t-shirt that smells like deli meat) in order to bring you the sports stuff you may have missed and some other sports stuff you didn’t even know you needed this AM. You can always count on me. 

I’m still a little groggy from the Monday Night Football/Stanley Cup Final doubleheader I enjoyed last night, so let’s jump right into things.


📰 What you need to know

1. Raiders rally to beat Saints 🏈

The Oakland Las Vegas Raiders (sorry, gonna take a while to get used to that) were the story of Monday Night Football last night. Not only did they play their first game in their brand-new $2 billion Roomba-looking stadium in Vegas, but they picked up a comeback win against the favored Saints in the process. The Raiders took down Drew Brees & Co. with a 34-24 victory to move to 2-0 to start the season… just like we all expected. 😅

How did that happen, you ask? Well, our Cody Benjamin is here to answer.

  • Why the Raiders won: Derek Carr was the best quarterback on the field on Monday night. He had a bit of a shaky start but recovered and was incredibly efficient the rest of the way, going 28/38 for 282 yards and three touchdowns, with 12 of those completions and 103 of those yards going to tight end Darren Waller
  • Why the Saints lost: New Orleans had a 10-point lead with about five minutes left in the first half but they quickly saw that lead evaporate thanks to 1) an inability to stop the Raiders’ short passes, and 2) one of the worst interceptions you’ll ever see from Brees. The veteran QB racked up 300+ yards passing but he hardly looked polished against a suspect defense. The Saints own D died by a thousand cuts and they looked gassed as the game went on

Okay, it’s only Week 2 so maybe we should avoid and big overreactions here but… maybe we should also be concerned about the Saints? Is Drew Brees over the hill? Has he lost his fastball? Or was it simply an off night under the bright lights in Vegas? 

New Orleans is considered to be a legitimate NFC challenger but they looked awfully sloppy and unspectacular on Monday, so they should have a tough week of practice ahead of them this week. As for the Raiders, well, happy homecoming.


2. Answering questions from Week 2 🏈

It seemed like just yesterday we were wondering if there would even be an NFL season in 2020 and now here we are… with Week 2 officially in the books. We’ve been blessed with some great action through the first couple of weeks and hopefully there’s a lot more to come, but we still have plenty of questions about what we’ve seen so far. 

My disappointed internet father Will Brinson has shown up this week to help sort through the pile of those lingering questions, so let’s see if he can’t give us a few answers.

  • Is Josh Allen a legitimate MVP candidate? Brinson believes the Bills can be a Super Bowl contender if Allen makes big strides this year and, through two weeks, he appears to be doing just that. With 417 yards through the air on Sunday, Allen now has 729 passing yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s the fourth player in NFL history to throw for 700-plus yards with six-plus touchdowns and no picks through two weeks, joining Patrick Mahomes (2019), Tom Brady (2015) and Peyton Manning (2013). That’s pretty incredible company and he’s gathering (very, very) early MVP chatter, but he’s gonna need to prove he can do it against teams that aren’t the Dolphins and Jets
  • Can the Cardinals really contend in the NFC West? We all knew Kyler Murray was gonna have that patented second-year breakout this season, right? This weekend he became the first player ever to pass for 500 yards and rush for 150 yards over the first two weeks of the season, and now we have to start wondering if the Cards are for real. The jury is still out on whether their defense is legit but right now it seems like Arizona could easily start out 5-0 with the Lions, Panthers and Jets on tap over the next three weeks

Brinson sorted through a few more questions (including the worst coaching decision of the week) and you can read all about them here.

Here’s a question that wasn’t answered, though: Remember when the Patriots signed Cam Newton for, like, $5 this offseason? How and why did the rest of the NFL allow that to happen? Seems like a bad idea.


3. Oilers star Leon Draisaitl wins Hart Trophy 🏒

 
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With COVID-19 throwing the NHL schedule out of whack and ruining plans for a big awards show in the offseason, the league decided to just release the results of their regular season awards yesterday. Yep, right before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final… strange times. 

Anyway, here’s who came away with the big awards:

  • Hart: Leon Draisaitl, Oilers
  • Calder: Cale Makar, Avalanche
  • Vezina: Connor Hellebuyck, Jets
  • Norris: Roman Josi, Predators

This was a really intriguing year for the awards races, especially with the shortened season and expanded playoff picture throwing a wrench in things. For the most part I think voters got it right (especially with Vezina and Norris) and I’m not totally shocked at any of the results. That being said, I would have had Draisaitl third on my Hart ballot behind Artemi Panarin and Nathan MacKinnon.

Draisaitl’s numbers were fantastic and he had an outstanding year in which he largely carried the Oilers’ offensive attack, but he isn’t even the best player on his own team (he plays with McDavid a ton) and he’s a liability defensively. Panarin finished third in points on a pretty bad offensive team while his most frequent linemate was Ryan Strome. MacKinnon had 43 points more than the next-highest scorer on his team. Both of those guys are better defensively and I’d argue they meant more to their respective teams this season.

4. Ranking chaos in final week of MLB season ⚾

Listen, you know me well enough by now… you should know that I LOVE chaos. I can’t get enough of it. I’ve been referred to as an “agent of chaos” enough to put it in my Twitter bio. So, with that in mind, it’s VERY exciting to see how much chaos could be in store over the final week of baseball’s regular season. 

With the playoffs looming, our Matt Snyder put together his final regular season power rankings and looked extra closely at the teams facing all-or-nothing scenarios. Here are the three most intriguing to him:

  • Phillies: The pressure is on to make some noise with their current roster but they’re clinging to the last spot in the NL playoff picture and there are three other teams in the hunt, too
  • Cardinals: St. Louis made the NLCS last year and they currently sit sixth in the NL playoff picture. They also have eight games in seven days (including five against the Brewers) so it’s going to be an incredibly tough final stretch for the Cards
  • Giants: The expectations aren’t necessarily as high for the Giants but they’re a half-game outside of the playoff picture and are tied with the Brewers in that spot. Could it be more Even Year Magic for SF this year?

You can find Snyder’s full power rankings right here. And, remember, we always root for chaos. Chaos is undefeated.


📝 Odds & Ends


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📺 What to watch tonight

Yankees vs. Blue Jays, 6:37 p.m. | TOR +215 | TV: MLB.TV

Marlins vs. Braves, 7:10 p.m. | ATL -207 | TV: MLB.TV

🏀 Lakers vs. Nuggets, 9 p.m. | LAL -270 | TV: TNT


📝 Top scores from last night

 
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🏈 Raiders 34, Saints 24

Derek Carr outdueled Drew Brees as the Raiders overcame an early 10-point deficit to improve to 2-0. 
💵 Winning wagers: LV +173, Over (47.5)

🏒 Lightning 3, Stars 2

The Lightning scored all three goals in the first period (including two on the power play) as they evened the Stanley Cup Final, 1-1.
💵 Winning wagers: TBL -159, Push (5)

Braves 5, Marlins 4

Atlanta scored all five of their runs in the first two innings and held on at the end to inch closer to a third straight NL East title.
💵 Winning wagers: ATL-165, Under (9.5)





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