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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards Sends Letter to Roger Goodell Over Call in Saints NFC Title Game Loss

Saints fans are not the only one outraged over the NFL’s lack of accountability in Sunday’s NFC Title game between New Orleans and the Rams.

Louisiana’s governor is speaking out, as Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter Tuesday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to express the “deep disappointment” of the people of Louisiana and Saints fans.

The Democratic governor complained about the failure of officials to call interference or roughness penalties when a Rams player leveled a Saints receiver with a helmet-to-helmet hit near the end of Sunday’s game.

“The very least that any fan of the Saints, or any other team, should be able to expect from any game is that the result will be decided by the players on the field,” Edwards wrote. “By missing the obvious, blatant and intentional penalty at the end of the game, the referees in Sunday’s game undermined that expectation and unfortunately were allowed to determine the winner.”

Edwards is calling on the NFL to make rule changes for next season that would allow for expanding replay reviews. He said without such adjustments, “the very integrity of the game will be called into question.”

And the governor told Goodell that while Louisiana football fans will move past the game, “we will not forget it.”

This could still get interesting before Super Bowl LIII a week from Sunday, but again the NFL likely will do nothing about the matter.

The Saints Want to Make it Two Straight Vs the Rams; Three Keys to Winning the NFC Title Game

Back on November 4th the Saints were able to lay it on the Rams, topping the team from Los Angeles 45-35 in a shootout in New Orleans.

This Sunday the two teams will battle again in the NFC Title Game in what could be yet another high scoring affair, but there’s a couple factors as to why this time around, the game could be a lot closer than it was the first time around.

Today we take a look at the game up close and personal, as the Saints will look to advance to the Super Bowl and look for the franchises second NFL championship.

1. Get Kamara and Ingram Going Early

The Rams last week did a great job up front against the Cowboys and their stud running back, Ezekiel Elliott, holding him to 47 yards on 20 carries. The Saints got behind early against the Eagles, but were able to rebound thanks to the run game a key drive that saw a big gamble pay off for a TD that put them back in the game.

This time around, look for the 1-2 punch of Kamara and Ingram to get off the ball early, and for the Saints offensive line to give a better early effort in the game to make sure that they can control the clock and line of scrimmage.

2. A Much Faster Start

Last week there was panic after the Eagles were able to get off to a 14-0 lead which put the Saints on their heels most of the night.

Luckily for them the defense finally stood up to Nick Foles and company, and the offense got off after a very slow start, and they were able to crawl out of the hole and get back to being ahead in the third quarter.

They can’t do the same thing this week against a very good Rams team that can pile on the points if they get some early momentum, which is what they will try to do on the road.

3. Pressure Goff

The last time they played, the Saints were able to pick off Rams franchise QB Jared Goff once, but he still had a solid day, going 28-for-40 for 391 yards and three scores.

The Saints did not record a sack on Goff, which is a formula for disaster if they give him time in the pocket to sit back and throw the football.

Look for Sean Payton and the Saints D to have a more aggressive game plan this time around against Goff.

For information on how to bet on AFC and NFC championship games, visit US-Bookies.com.

The Ups and Downs of the Super Bowl Halftime Show

For those that don’t watch nor care about what happens on the field during the Super Bowl, there’s one thing that a lot of ‘fringe’ watchers of the biggest game every year on planet earth do keep their eyes on – that’s the musical act at halftime.

Over the years the NFL has been able to march out some of the all-time greats (Michael Jackson, Prince and Lady Gaga), but this season the NFL has a massive issue on their hands, and that’s drawing a big name for the big game.

Let’s go back to Super Bowl XXVI in January of 1992 in Minnesota when the Redskins were taking apart the Buffalo Bills.

Gloria Estefan is performing the finale of a show that features dancers, a marching band and two former Olympic champion skaters, a great performance.

At the same time, people across America are having chats, taking restroom breaks, making runs for beer, or – disastrously for Super Bowl host broadcaster CBS – changing the channel.

That day Fox Network at halftime took away 17 million NFL viewers as they ran a one-off live episode of sketch comedy show In Living Color, a huge sketch comedy show at the time with the likes of Jim Carrey, who would go on to be a huge movie star.

It was a catastrophe for the NFL, the Super Bowl’s organizers, who, as a result, aggressively recruited the biggest pop star in the world in Michael Jackson, in a bid to enhance ratings.

Their plan would up working for the next 20 years.

The King of Pop’s 1993 halftime show helped to attract a television audience of 91 million viewers – the second-largest in Super Bowl history at the time and 12 million more than the previous year in Minnesota – and ratings went through the roof.

Staging concert-style shows with worldwide mainstream artists has worked for both the organizers and performers ever since, with the artists and the NFL enjoying great success.

The Super Bowl’s US television audience has never dipped back below 83 million viewers, while artists who have done it enjoy a boost to both their profile and their sales.

The halftime show has grown to where that it is discussed almost as much as the game itself, with online betting props available to bet on the first song, changes of costumes, and what guests will appear.

In the past couple of years, however, the organizers have faced a new problem: attracting mega superstars.

The reason why is complicated, but it can be traced back to the continued exile of former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, who protested the national anthem at the start of games in the preseason of 2016 season and during the season, and has been a huge source of controversy ever since.

Jay-Z told the NFL ‘no,’ as he wanted to stay aligned with Kaepernick, while several mainstream artists rejected offers to perform at the show on February 3rd, including Rihanna, Pink and Cardi B.

The organizers have had to settled on pop group Maroon 5 to be the headliner for this year’s big show, with guest appearances from Travis Scott – who requested a $500,000 donation for charity Dream Corps to appear – and OutKast member Big Boi, not the lineup that gets a ton of people talking.

It’s clear that for the first time in more than two decades, though, the show, previously considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, is now viewed by some artists as not worth the headache or backlash by fans.

It’s hard to believe, given how successful the blueprint created by Jackson’s huge 1993 performance has been.

His album, Dangerous, rose up 90 places in the Billboard charts immediately after the show, and his 90-minute conversation with Oprah Winfrey just over a week later remains the highest-rated television interview of all time.

Indeed, most artists have benefitted hugely from performing at the Super Bowl, and it would be worth their while to think twice about it.

Madonna, for example, saw sales of her back catalogue increase by 410 percent after her appearance in 2012.

And in 2018, Lady Gaga’s album and single sales rose by over 1,000 per cent on the day of her very well received Super Bowl LI halftime show, with the buzz from that performance helping her secure a two-year residency in Las Vegas later that year.

To some artists, however, the halftime show hasn’t been quite so kind.

Janet Jackson is the most notable of those, with ‘Nipplegate’ being the most infamous moment in Super Bowl history in Houston, Texas.

While Justin Timberlake was just as responsible for the wardrobe malfunction, Jackson took the brunt of the blame, and by some has never recovered.

Her music and videos were removed from all Viacom properties, including CBS and MTV, and her album, while critically acclaimed, underperformed commercially as fans didn’t want any part of it.

M.I.A. also saw her profile dip after she gave the camera the middle finger at Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 and was subsequently sued for $16m by the NFL, later settling out of court.

It’s a testament to the show’s pull, however, that artists continued – up until recently, at least – to jump at the chance to perform.

There’s no doubt that the NFL has benefitted just as much from the switch to concert-style performances.

Ratings now typically rise at halftime as viewers tune in to watch the spectacle, and the last nine Super Bowls have all seen American television audiences of 100 million and above.

A 30-second Super Bowl commercial spot, which cost $850,000 back in 1992, is now worth $5m, an increase of $3.5m after accounting for inflation.

It’s clear, however, that the Kaepernick situation has hurt the NFL.

Last year’s Super Bowl – in which Timberlake’s halftime show performance featured a tone-deaf posthumous duet with Prince – attracted the smallest television audience since 2009.

Ratings fell nine per cent from 2017, when Lady Gaga performed, and market share dropped below 69 per cent for the first time in eight years.

For that reason, the pressure is on for this February’s Super Bowl in Atlanta after the rejections from several big names have become so public.

A complete revamp of the halftime show is not likely to happen, but another year of ratings going down could force the NFL to change what they do in terms of their strategy – one that has been incredibly successful for the past 25 years.

From the good to the bad to the absolutely cringe-worthy, the Super Bowl has seen it all when it comes to their halftime show. Our friends at Betway put together this infographic showing some highlights from over the years.

Guess the Score of the Saints-Eagles and Win an Amazing Alvin Kamara Bobblehead from Forever Collectibles

The Saints are set for a showdown with the Eagles in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, and today we’re ready to see what you think of the game – and one lucky winner could get themselves an amazing Alvin Kamara bobblehead from Forever Collectibles!

All you have to do is simply leave us a comment with your guess of the final score of the Divisional Playoff game between the Saints and Eagles.

That’s it! If there’s more than one winner, we’ll chose one winner at random for this amazing bobblehead.

Forever Collectibles has great Saints merchandise to choose from scarfs, socks, gloves, collectibles and much more! Click HERE to see all that Forever Collectibles has to offer!

If you’re buying or looking for a fan of another team – no worries – Forever Collectables has you covered with EVERY team – click HERE to see their entire NFL line of great bobbleheads today!

Don’t forget to leave us your best guess at the NFC Divisional playoff game final for a chance to take home a sweet Alvin Kamara bobblehead! Good Luck!

First Round of 2019 Playoffs….Who you got?

Playoffs…Playoffs?

Even with the Saints having a first round bye, there is plenty to pay attention to with this weeks wild card round. Let’s take a look at the upcoming playoff games starting with the AFC games and finishing with the games in the NFC that will decide who comes to New Orleans in the Divisional Round.

AFC

Colts vs Texans

While most of the games should be competitive, this will be the third time these two teams have played this season. Along with both teams have won one game on the road, the way Luck is playing makes it hard to go against the Colts. The Texans have a great defense and one of the better young QB’s in the game in Watson, but again both games these teams played were won on road. That said I have to go with the home team in a squeaker….27-26.

Chargers vs Ravens

Since the Ravens went into Los Angeles and beat the Chargers at home a couple of weeks ago, most people are picking the Ravens to win again at home. However the Chargers are getting some of there injured players like Melvin Gordon back and they do have Rivers. With that said, the Ravens are playing great defense and unless Jackson starts playing like a rookie QB, the Ravens should prevail….I’m going with the Ravens 21-17.

NFC

Seahawks vs Cowboys

For me the winner of this game is likely who the Saints will face in the divisional round. Unless the Eagles can go into Chicago and somehow win against the Bears defense, the Saints will get the winner of this game. The Seahawks won an early season meeting between the two teams in Seattle 24-13, Dallas has come a long way since then but it’s hard to go against Wilson. I’m going with Seattle upsetting the “Boys” in Dallas 31-21

Eagles vs Bears

I mentioned earlier that it will be tough for the Eagles to go into Chicago and beat the Bears. The monsters of the midway are back, but the Eagles have Foles, who has turned into a playoff monster. I can’t believe the Eagles haven’t come up with a suitable nickname for him. I’m going with the Bears 17-14, but if the Eagles win, I won’t be surprised….By the way if the Eagles do win, they will be the Saints opponent in the Divisional round.

While all this is going on the Saints are hopefully watching and getting healthy………

Happy New Year!!!

 

WhoDat!!

Bill Stephens, SaintsGab writer, Follow Saints Gab on twitter @SaintsGab

 

Saints to Start Teddy Bridgewater at QB Sunday Against Panthers

With homefield advantage for the 2018 postseason wrapped up and nothing to play for, the Saints will treat Sunday’s game against rival Carolina like a preseason game, and will start a lot of new faces to the lineup.

The biggest change will be at quarterback, where Drew Brees will get a rest, and the team will start former Vikings starter Teddy Bridgewater, in what could be his one and only chance under center for New Orleans.

Bridgewater was acquired this summer by the Saints, and it will be a chance for him to showcase his talents for the offseason when he is again a free agent.

Bridgewater’s last start came nearly three years ago for the Vikings in a January 2016 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

He returned to play for the Vikings late last season and played well for the New York Jets this preseason before he was sent to the Saints.

“Just knowing that you can take that field from the start of the game, you just get the chills thinking about it. Because it’s been so long,” Bridgewater said.

“… And it’s a great feeling. I get the chills just thinking about [it]. I’m excited about it. I’m trying to keep my composure. But it’s just another milestone to check off the list.

“All the time that you put in, all the sacrifices you made to get to this point … it’s great to see the opportunity present itself. I’m very grateful for it, appreciative of it, and I just can’t wait.”

Are the Saints Ready for the Dance?

Here we are after a long road, are the Saints ready for the playoffs?

Last year the Saints were one missed tackle away for the NFC championship game, what would have happened if they had advanced? Truly who knows, but instead of sitting and moaning about bad juju, the Saints did what winners do, they went back to work. Now it’s time to get ready for the big Dance.

Key components were added, mostly on the defensive side of the ball, mainly Demario Davis, Marcus Davenport and Patrick Robinson as well as Kurt Coleman. Players who were injured and returned such as Anzalone and Okafor added depth and gave the defense hope of returning and exceeding the way they finished last year.

The offense returned the stable that had let them produce at a record pace last year, but hard decisions were made and the receiving corp looked thin at the beginning of the year. Kamara, Ingram and Thomas were back and even though Ingram was suspended for the first four games of the year the talented skill position players have produced as expected. Benjamin Watson was brought back to help solidify the tight end position and Ginn was back to be a reliable number 2 receiver.

Along the way, Brees became the NFL’s all time leader in passing yards and completions and moved into number two all time for touchdown passes.

Drew Brees, All Time NFL Passing Leader

Then the season started with a disastrous loss to Tampa Bay and a near loss to Cleveland, but the team started rolling against Atlanta and then picked up steam and went on a ten game winning streak that included victories over the Ravens, Vikings and Rams.

By the time the streak was broken on the road in Dallas, the Saints had all but clinched the division and then went on the road to start a new winning streak against Tampa Bay.

As of this writing the Saints are 13-2 and have home field advantage and a chance for some of the injured players to take a seat and hopefully heal up before the Divisional round. Armstead, Warford and Bushrod have already been ruled out of the game against Carolina and Bridgewater has been named the starter. It would be surprising to see Ginn, Watson and Ramczyk on the field and that’s just the offense.

Terron Armstead, ruled inactive week 17

When the Saint do take the field again it will be against the lowest seed to survive the wild card weekend. So take your pick from the Cowboys, Seahawks, Vikings or Eagles. The Saints have already played the Cowboys, Vikings and Eagles this year with the Cowboys winning in Dallas.

So buckle up WhoDats, after we get passed the game with Carolina this week, we have two weeks to get ready for who ever we play next.

 

Team Leaders

Passing Yards

Drew Brees

3992

Rushing Yards

Alvin Kamara

883

Receiving Yards

Michael Thomas

1376

Tackles

Demario Davis

106

Interceptions

Marshon Lattimore

2

Sacks

Cam Jordan

12

Fumbles Recovered

Marshon Lattimore

3

Touchdowns

Alvin Kamara

18

WhoDat!!!

 

Bill Stephens, SaintsGab writer, Follow Saints Gab on twitter @SaintsGab

Five Questions With…SteelersGab

The Saints return home after a tough three weeks on the road. While the Saints did stumble a bit, they’re still in prime position to clinch Dome field advantage for the NFC playoffs. But first, a tough test from the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are still fighting for the division after a hot Baltimore team won again Saturday.

NFL Gridiron Gab editor and Steelers fan Matt Loede and I sat down to discuss today’s potential Super Bowl matchup.

Is the lack of numbers recently for Drew Brees a concern?

I’m actually not overly concerned with the Saints’ offensive decline the last three games for a couple of reasons.

First, the offensive line has been banged up. Terron Armstead returns from a pectoral injury that has kept him away the last five weeks. Max Unger, Andrus Peat and Ryan Ramzyck have all been limited by injuries the last couple of weeks. Jermon Bushrod is out today  with a hamstring injury. A healthy O-line is imperative if the Saints’ offense is to return to the form it played during the win streak this season.

Sean Payton’s play calling has also had an effect on Drew Brees and the offense. As he has done in previous playoff seasons, Payton dials back the playbook towards the end of the season. The misdirection and mismatches the Saints create has not been there really since the Thanksgiving game vs Atlanta. Taysom Hill has not been getting the snaps in a Wildcat offense like he was earlier in the season either. The return of Ted Ginn Jr will also help open up Michael Thomas and the passing attack.

So, I don’t think we need to press the panic button. I’m excited to see the Saints offense open up again come playoff time.

Where do the Saints special teams rank this season?

The Saints special teams have been spectacular for the most part this season.

Will Lutz is having a career year, having missed only one field goal and one extra point so far this season. The protection has been solid to allow Lutz to kick with relatively little pressure.

The return game has not been particularly outstanding but it also hasn’t made many mistakes either. Taysom Hill has handled return duties for the most part this season, with Tommylee Lewis relieving Hill after being out a couple of weeks due to injury. Alvin Kamara is always an option should we need another speedster in the return game.

Speaking of Hill, he’s been outstanding all season. His size and speed make him an idle gunner in punt coverage. But he’s also shown he can play up on the line. His block against the Bucs completely changed the direction of that game.

My one major concern is punt protection.
Thomas Morestead is having another solid year, but he has taken some hard hits to the legs the last few weeks. The Saints can not afford to lose a weapon like Morestead to injury.

Can the defense continue to play well enough if the offense keeps having struggles?

Absolutely. While the Saints’ offense gets a lot of the credit for the hot start to the season, the defense has come together to quietly become one of the better units in the league.

I believe the defensive line doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. This unit has improved greatly with the addition of a young, athletic rookie in Marcus Davenport and a healthy Sheldon Rankins playing at a high level. This has freed up Cam Jordan to have perhaps the best season of his career.

The Saints the last three weeks have proven that the top defensive rushing ranking was not just a product of teams becoming one dimensional to catch up to the Saints potent offense. Over the course of the season, the Saints have turned running backs like Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott into non-factors.

The Saints have proved they can win ugly games too. And that’s what championship level teams do.

How do the Saints plan on stopping the Steelers pass rush?

Games against the Steelers are always won in the trenches and this game will be no different.

The Steelers boast talented All-Pros DE Cameron Hayward and OLB TJ Watt in a 3-4 system which has produced 46 sacks this season. Watt brings speed along the edge, while Hayward likes to over power interior linemen by twisting in combination with his tackles. Andrus Peat, Max Unger, and Larry Warford will have to have to be on the lookout for this all game. Teams have had success historically by getting pressure in front of Brees due to his height.

Offensively, I would expect to see a bit more screens and short yardage dump offs than we have the last couple of weeks to keep their line off balance. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will have to figure out where the pressure is coming from early and adjust protection accordingly on passing downs. Also, I would expect to see more FB Zach Line involved this week.

Oh..and run, run, run.

Who specifically will have to cover Antonio Brown and how do you think that will go?

Antonio Brown is statistically having a down year for him because defenses are targeting him more. Last week he only had four catches for 49 yards. Is this a sign of Brown slowing down?

No. Not at all. Defenses have been playing a bracket defense on Brown all season, with a corner back covering him and a safety helping up top. Yet, he’s still caught an NFL high 13 TD catches. I would expect Eli Apple to have the primary assignment on Brown today. While Apple is hardly a shutdown corner, he has been steadily improving since the trade from the New York Giants.

With that being said, Brown’s elite talent has opened up the field for JuJu Smith-Shuster, who’s in the midst of one of the best first two years of a career all time. The deep ball and big play specialist will likely have Mashon Lattimore draping him most of the evening.

I expect the Steelers to expose this and be patient with short throws to set up deeper pass plays. I expect the Saints to shut down one, but not both of perhaps the best receiving tandem in the NFL.

Prediction Saints 31 Steelers 24

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