The NFC South-leading Saints kept gaining momentum while the Giants kept losing it as New Orleans hammered the Giants on Monday night. Seven thoughts:
1. The Saints have the ability to slay Green Bay. They’ve won three straight now and are healthier than they’ve been all year. The Week-11 bye was particularly well timed, and Drew Brees is really finding a groove with Jimmy Graham and Co. New Orleans is the only team that is as deep on offense as Green Bay is. And the Saints finally started forcing some turnovers in this game. They appear to be peaking at the perfect time.
2. The Giants aren’t a playoff team. It’s funny how the contenders are separated from the pretenders in the month of November. In their last three games, the Saints, Packers and Patriots are a combined 9-0. The Falcons have won five of six, with their only loss coming at the hands of New Orleans. The Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens have won a combined eight straight. And then there are the Giants, who have now lost three in a row after a 6-2 start. I’d class them with pretenders Buffalo (losers of four straight) and Detroit (losers of four of six). The Giants simply have too many injuries and aren’t consistent enough within games and on a game-by-game basis.
3. Jason Pierre-Paul will be an All-Pro…soon. That was one hell of a play to thwart a New Orleans fake field goal on the first series of the game. He’s got double digits sacks, too. In his second season, he’s become the best player on a very good defense.
4. Why were New Orleans’ starters in the game in the final minute? And why is that becoming common practice among teams winning big late? I don’t understand why it’s been happening a lot lately, but it’s going to bite someone in the ass. Brees shouldn’t have been near the field for most of the fourth quarter. It’s not just about injuries — it’s about respect and karma, too.
5. Jimmy Graham has become the best tight end in the game. There’s no disputing it anymore, Graham’s the king. He caught five passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns on Monday night, and has a legit chance to break some single-season tight end records this season. Not bad for a guy who turned 25 four days ago. Rob Gronkowski is dominant, but I can’t imagine there’s a general manager in the league who’d take Gronkowski (or anyone else) over Graham at this point.
6. There’s a lot of divisiveness surrounding the illegal hit rules that continue to cause controversy on a weekly basis. On Monday night, Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins were flagged for illegal hits on defenseless receivers, and in both cases it seemed as though there was very little the defensive backs could do to avoid the collisions. It’s funny: while Twitter usually finds a consensus on most issues (i.e. Gruden sucks, and whoever sees that New Year’s Eve movie should be sentenced to prison time), it’s almost an even split when it comes to hits like these. About half agree that defenders have to change their game, and about half think the NFL has gone too far and is punishing guys for playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played. I’m from the latter group, and I think it’s because I played football. Maybe you have to have played to understand that it’s impossible for players to avoid some of these hits, especially when the primary objective is to dislodge the football.
7. And the latest in unintended telestrator immaturity…