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Saints big favorites vs. Texans in Week 1

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By James Parks | 247 Sports

This week, we learned the entire 2019 regular season schedule for the New Orleans Saints, a slate with some early prime time games and another Thanksgiving rematch against the Atlanta Falcons.

But their first game will provide more than enough challenge for the defending NFC South champions as they are set to host the AFC contender Houston Texans for the first edition of Monday Night Football.

Going into the game, it looks like the experts like the Saints in a big way.

Shortly after the National Football League announced their entire schedule for this coming season, Westgate Las Vegas listed the Saints as 7.5 point favorites against Houston.

That line is the second biggest across the entire league, matching the 7.5 points the Seattle Seahawks are favored over the Cincinnati Bengals, and just shy of the eight points experts are giving the Philadelphia Eagles over the Washington Redskins.

Full Story - 247 Sports

'We're all ready': New Orleans Saints, their fans and the city try to grab a Super Bowl berth

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Advocate staff photo by LESLIE GAMBONI

By Rod Walker | The Advocate

Terron Armstead, like everyone else in the New Orleans Saints locker room, has waited for this chance all his life.

The Saints' left tackle, in his sixth NFL season, knows these opportunities don't come along often.

So Armstead appreciates the magnitude of what will happen at 2:05 p.m. Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, when the Saints play in what is easily the franchise's most significant game in nine years.

"Growing up, you always dream about the Super Bowl," Armstead said. "The bright lights. The thrill of it. Being a champion. Football immortality. Playing a game we love. It's so close."

The Saints haven't been this close since the 2009-10 season when they won their first and only world championship. If the No. 1 seeded Saints (14-3) can beat the No. 2 Los Angeles Rams (14-3) in Sunday's NFC championship game, they'll head to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3.

"When you put yourself in a position like we did to be able to be where we are, we want to seize every moment," receiver Ted Ginn Jr said. ...

Full Story - The Advocate

Saints and Rams have been on collision course — now it’s D-Day

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Drew Brees, Jared Goff AP, Getty Images

By Paul Schwartz | New York Post

NEW ORLEANS — The last time Drew Brees and the Saints advanced this far was after the 2009 season, and the quarterback remembers how his team and the Vikings were tracking each other week after week, month after month.

“We all felt that is who we were going to see in the NFC Championship Game,’’ Brees said. “I think this year, in many respects, that was kind of the same idea. We looked across the league and saw what the Rams were doing and the success they were having.’’

The Saints were afforded a first-hand look at the Rams on Nov. 4, engaging in an entertaining, high-flying game won by New Orleans, 45-35. Afterward, there was every reason to believe these teams could cross paths again.

“I think we had a feeling then that obviously we aspired to be in this situation, and we all had a feeling that they were going to be the team that that we might face again,’’ Brees said. “So here we are.” ...

Full Story - New York Post

NFC Championship preview - Can Saints take advantage of Rams secondary?

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Photo - Yahoo Sports

By Simon A. M. Milham | Yahoo Sports

As with the AFC Championship, No.1 and No.2 seeds in the NFC clash on Sunday for the right to play in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on Sunday, February 3.

The New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams earned the two-best regular-season records in the NFL, each recording 13-3 marks, but it is the Saints who have the No.1 seeding and therefore host the NFC Championship game for the first time since they won the Super Bowl XLIV nine years ago.

The teams met at the Superdome in Week 9, with that early November clash going 45-35 to the Saints. It was the Rams’ third successive defeat by the Saints on the road and in the last 51 years of playing games in New Orleans, they have never lost four consecutive trips.

Those who love stats and conspiracy theorists will point to the fact the referee for the game is Bill Vinovich, who officiated their previous clash when there were only six accepted penalties in the game, with four going against the Rams. The Rams are also 0-8 in games in the last six years when Vinovich has been the referee.

The Rams have not been in the Super Bowl since losing 20-17 to the New England Patriots at the end of the 2001 season, a game ironically played in New Orleans. They seek a fourth title, having won the 1945 and 1951 NFL Championship, before winning...

Coach Sean Payton & Rams Coach Sean McVay on Superdome Advantage | Saints Playoff Report

Saints facing unexpected looks on defense has made them masters of adjusting on the fly

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Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD

By Nick Underhill | The Advocate

The New Orleans Saints like to think they get everyone's best effort.

They spend every week watching an opponent do one thing, only to end up seeing something completely different on Sunday. The only thing that surprises the Saints is when there are no surprises.

“We always think teams do things we’ve never seen before when they come see us,” tight end Benjamin Watson said. “We know they want to take people out of the game, but we’ll get a team, and they play man and all of the sudden they’re playing zone.”

That’s part of football — especially when Sean Payton designs the offense and quarterback Drew Brees is at the controls. Being static against these guys means having your defense unraveled one thread at a time. That might happen anyway, but you shouldn’t make it easy for the Saints.

Having this experience of continually adjusting and adapting is invaluable during the playoffs. This is the time of year when every team tries to bring its best shot, introducing new wrinkles designed specifically for that week’s game. ...

Full Story - The Advocate

'Sean got swag, man': Payton's bold approach gives Saints distinct edge

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By Jarrett Bell | USA Today

METAIRIE, La. – You might wonder what in the world Sean Payton was thinking last weekend when, already trailing 14-0 in the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles, he essentially bet the house by calling for a fake punt on fourth-and-1 from his own 30-yard line.

Or what the fiery New Orleans Saints coach was trying to ignite last week in ramping up for the playoff opener by wheeling into the locker room a replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy and more than $200,000 in cash – in single bills.

Or why Payton, a former quarterback whose journey as a player took him to the Arena Football League, the Canadian Football League and crossing an NFL picket line as a scab back in the day, carries a game-day edge that often makes it seem like he’s still playing – to the point that apparent trash-talk from the sideline fueled some kind of postgame heat in early November from Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters.

Well, it all comes from the same pot of gumbo.

“Sean got swag, man,” Saints running back Alvin Kamara summed up to USA TODAY recently. ...

Full Story - USA Today

Saints preparing for surging Rams' ground attack

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By Herbie Teope - Around the NFL Writer |

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints shut down the Los Angeles Rams' vaunted running game, which ranked third in the league in 2018, in a Week 9 matchup, holding Todd Gurley to 79 total yards (68 rushing) en route to a 45-35 win.

Sunday's matchup, however, presents a double-trouble threat for the Saints with Gurley and C.J. Anderson, as each player totaled 100-plus yards in the Rams' 30-22 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Round.

"That's impressive," Saints running back Mark Ingram said. "They got after them. That's a good defense the Cowboys have and they got after them. When you run the ball like that, you have a high chance for success." ...

Gurley and Anderson anchored a ground attack that gashed the Cowboys' fifth-ranked run defense with 273 yards rushing and three touchdowns, two from Anderson and one from Gurley. The duo now sets their sights on the Saints' second-ranked D.

Anderson, who spent parts of the regular season with the Panthers and Raiders, joined the Rams on Dec. 18 to bolster depth with Gurley dealing with a knee injury. And he made an immediate impact, totaling three straight 100-plush yards rushing games, including last week's performance. ...

Risk-taking Saints advance to host Rams for NFC title

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By Brett Martel - AP | ABC News

Coach Sean Payton the New Orleans Saints are anything but risk averse.

After all, Payton's Saints won a Super Bowl with the help of a surprise onside kick nine years ago, and now New Orleans is one home victory away from its first Super Bowl since then — thanks to a pair of aggressive and pivotal fourth-down play calls when the Saints were trying to come back from a two-touchdown deficit.

"We needed to shift momentum and we were able to, fortunately, and take advantage of it," said Payton, who's bound to carry that approach into the NFC title game against the Los Angeles Rams next weekend.

Facing fourth-and-short on their own 30, Payton called for a fake punt on which third-string quarterback and special teams virtuoso Taysom Hill took a direct snap as the up back.

So when the Saints faced another fourth down on the Eagles 2 later that same drive, it only seemed fitting that they dialed up a touchdown pass from Drew Brees to rookie receiver Keith Kirkwood instead of settling for a field goal.

That marked the beginning of 20 unanswered points scored by New Orleans in a 20-14 triumph in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs on Sunday. ...

Full Story - ABC news

Saints Brush Off Poor Start to Reach N.F.C. Championship Game

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Michael Thomas caught a 2-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter finishing off an 18-play drive that gave New Orleans the lead for good.CreditCreditBill Feig/Associated Press

By Ken Belson | New York Times

NEW ORLEANS — The Saints’ magical season keeps on rolling.

The top-seeded Saints knocked off the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles, 20-14, overcoming a slow, error-filled start to their divisional round game to set up a rematch against the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday here in New Orleans.

After spotting the Eagles two touchdowns in the first half, the Saints clawed back to within 4 points at halftime. In the second half, quarterback Drew Brees then found his rhythm, engineering an 18-play, 92-yard drive that chewed up more than 11 minutes of the third quarter and put the Saints ahead for good.

Brees ended the drive by hitting wide receiver Michael Thomas for a 2-yard touchdown pass that reignited the raucous crowd of 73,027 at the Superdome and left the Eagles’ defense, already banged up from injuries, exhausted.

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who looked magical himself on his team’s first two drives of the game, was unable to muster much offense in the second half as the crowd noise made it difficult for him to communicate with his teammates. ...

Eagles revenge is subplot in rematch versus Saints

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Photo - AP/Getty images

By Paul Schwartz | New York Post

NEW ORLEANS — Get the feeling the Eagles want to distance themselves as far as possible from the last time they tangled with the Saints?

Eagles coach Doug Pederson said, “You have to push the eject button.’’ He also said, “You flush it.’’ This might be easier said than done.

As different as the Eagles believe they are from the struggling team that staggered out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Nov. 18 on the wrong end of a 48-7 humbling, at least a few memories of that shellacking are sure to infiltrate their minds and emotions Sunday afternoon in an NFC divisional playoff game at a venue where the homestanding Saints usually soar.

It was the worst loss ever for a Super Bowl defending champion, an embarrassment the Eagles this week were forced to confront once again after they stunned the Bears, 16-15, in the NFC wild-card round to set up this rematch with the Saints.

Full Story - New York Post

Saints offense, Eagles defense among the NFL’s best in clutch situations

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(Photo by David Grunfeld, | The Times-Picayune)

By Luke Johnson, | The Times-Picayune

The winner of the Sunday’s NFC divisional round matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints might depend on the situation.

Situational football, that is. And few, if any, have been better in the NFL this season than the Saints offense and the Eagles defense when it comes to rising to the occasion in clutch moments.

Offensively, the Saints ranked No. 7 in the NFL on third down, No. 4 in red-zone efficiency and they led the league in goal-to-go efficiency. The Eagles’ defense ranked No. 6 on third down and led the NFL in both red zone and goal-to-go efficiency.

“Football games come down to one, two or three plays a game,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said.

“Situationally, these playoff games get decided,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “How you do on third down, defensively and offensively, how you do in the red area, are you settling for field goals or holding the opponents to field goals? I think those areas, specifically, will be important in this game.” ...

Full Story -

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