Bayou Benediction: Saints 26-23 OT win @ Bears

Sure, we are nearly halfway through the 2020 season but since I was busy with the October movie marathon, this is now the first chance I can delve back into sports since the end of September.

The New Orleans Saints are now 5-2 after holding off the Chicago Bears on the road in overtime. While the team’s record looks nice, they seem a step off from their perennial title-contending selves. Regardless, New Orleans is in prime playoff position. Let’s talk about their Week 8 victory.

Offense:

The effects of no Michael Thomas are still lingering but it hasn’t kept the offense from being shut down completely. The receiving corp has been saved week in and week out by running back Alvin Kamara, who led the team in receiving with 96 yards on nine catches. The rest of the receiving production came from tight end Jared Cook, who caught five passes and a touchdown, and utility weapon Taysom Hill, who also caught a TD.

Drew Brees just doesn’t have enough faith without Thomas, which is why his yards per pass was only at a clip of 6.8. He’s making the passes he knows will be completed and while it isn’t the explosion we are used to seeing from the Saints in years past, it’s enough to get the job done.

Defense:

Probably not an ideal situation when your three leading tacklers all came from the secondary. C.J. Gardner-Johnson led the team with nine but that wasn’t his claim to fame in Week 8 as he was involved in a massive scuffle with Bears wide receiver Javon Wims.

Outside of the brawl and five sacks combined from the front seven, the Saints just seem to be going through the motions. They are willing to break to the point where the offense has to carry the burden. There’s no sense of urgency to want to carry the load when the offense is struggling. Chicago is fifth-worst in terms of points per game, but the Saints squandered a 10-point lead in the second half to end up in an overtime period against an inferior team.

Special teams:

Kicker Wil Lutz has been one of the more reliable kickers in a league where kickers just can’t do their job anymore. Unfortunately, a missed 27-yard chip shot could’ve done New Orleans in early if Chicago’s offense wasn’t weak. Luckily, Lutz rebounded to kick a game-winning 35-yarder to negate the shank from earlier.

Up next:

A HUGE NFC South matchup is next for the Saints as they square off against the 5-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football. The defense must show a sense of urgency as they will be dealing with the season debut of wide receiver Antonio Brown.

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