I had the Saints ATS and in Survivor, so I’m not complaining, but what a difference a couple ticky-tack penalties made, extending the Saints first two would-be failed drives and turning them into touchdowns. After that, the Saints were off to the races, looking sharp on both sides of the ball, but you have to wonder how the game flow changes had they gone three-and-out twice and fallen behind.
• Drew Brees had another routine big game – 363 yards, 12.5 YPA, three TDs, no picks and two sacks. He also passed Peyton Manning for the all-time passing yards title, a mark he’s likely to hold for a while unless Tom Brady (5,000 yards behind) plays until he’s 50. Brees is a year and a half younger and frankly looks like he has more years left in the tank.
• Mark Ingram returned from his suspension and looked like his old self, running hard, breaking tackles and scoring twice. He wasn’t especially efficient, but he had 16 carries, three targets, two catches and 20 yards receiving. Alvin Kamara had only six carries and caught three of four targets for 15 yards. Kamara should still be a top-10 fantasy back, but Ingram’s role is the same as last year’s, and Kamara’s volume won’t be the same as it was the first four weeks.
• Taysom Hill also vultured a TD from the backs via direct snap. Consider it the Sean Payton tax.
• With Ted Ginn out, his successor Tre’Quan Smith had two long TDs on three targets for 111 yards. Sadly, my snake-bitten 14-team league squad with Leonard Fournette and Le’Veon Bell faced Smith and lost by six points, despite starting Isaiah Crowell, Robby Anderson and Wendall Smallwood.
• Michael Thomas and Cam Meredith were both quietly efficient with 70-plus yards each, but gameflow limited their targets.
• Alex Smith looked okay to me, throwing downfield, making accurate passes and scrambling well, despite playing from behind and being under heavy pressure most of the game. His one pick was on fourth down.
• The Redskins couldn’t run at all, and apparently Adrian Peterson separated his shoulder, but snapped it back in and returned to the game. Chris Thompson wasn’t much better, though he caught six of eight targets for 45 yards. Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson and Maurice Harris split most of the rest of the targets evenly to little effect. Jordan Reed saw only two targets, catching one for 21 yards.
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• The Saints looked shaky to start the year, but last night their defense looked better than it has all year, and the offense was borderline Rams-esque. They’re the second best team in the NFC right now and closer to No. 1 than No. 3.