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What Saints’ shocking loss to Falcons means for NFC playoff picture, Super Bowl chances

first_imgBut Atlanta learned it could squeeze Brees without much worry of being burned deep. Time of possession is critical for New Orleans. The Saints went into the game third in the league in that category, at 33:18, right behind two other Super Bowl contenders, the 49ers and Ravens. Yet the Falcons had the ball for more than 33 minutes Sunday. The Saints lost their offensive identity, and that was timed poorly with the Falcons finding their defensive identity.With the heart of November here, December around the corner and January not far behind, the Saints needed a little wake-up call for the stretch run. They certainly got it.The 49ers and Packers have proved to be difficult to throw against, but there are strong hints that top running games give both teams a lot more trouble. The Saints are designed to beat both teams, but to get to the Super Bowl, they need to execute what they do best, and do it cleanly. WATCH: Full Saints vs. Falcons highlightsHere are the ripple effects of the Saints’ second loss of the season, which ended their six-game winning streak and came after a bye.The Saints still need to sweat it out a little in the NFC South.New Orleans missed a chance to go up three games on Carolina (5-4) in the division after the Panthers lost at Green Bay later in the day. That’s somewhat significant because the teams haven’t played each other yet.So the Panthers have two cracks at the Saints, in Weeks 12 and 17. The other remaining games on the schedule are more in the Panthers’ favor.The Saints remain the Big Easy favorites to take a third consecutive division title, but now they need to do some work to try to pull away again.MORE: Updated NFL playoff picture after Week 10The Saints are now behind both the 49ers and Packers in the NFC.The 49ers (8-0), should they beat the Seahawks (7-2) on Monday, would have a two-game lead for home-field advantage with seven games left to play. The Packers (8-2) go into their Week 11 bye with a half-game lead over the Saints and a superior 5-1 conference record.The Saints will play the 49ers in Week 14 at home, but they might do only limited damage in trying to catch up should the 49ers continue to have that extra cushion.The Saints do not play the Packers, so that’s where that extra conference loss can loom large in the race for at least getting the No. 2 seed and a first-round playoff bye.MORE: What we learned from Saints vs. FalconsThe Saints’ Super Bowl-worthy strengths are now more obvious . . .There are two things that didn’t cost the Saints against the Falcons: the defense and the running game. These were the main elements that allowed them to go 5-0 without Drew Brees and with Teddy Bridgewater. Those remain intact after Sunday.Don’t be fooled by the numbers against the Falcons. The Saints gave up 143 yards rushing, but the Falcons needed 34 attempts to get that done. Also, a chunk of the production came late when running out the clock on a significant lead, and 17 came on one attempt by wide receiver Calvin Ridley.Top cornerback Marshon Lattimore had to leave the game with a thigh injury, but Matt Ryan (5.1 yards per attempt) and his receivers struggled to be effective on intermediate passes for most of the game, with the production inflated by a 54-yard connection with Julio Jones, who was mostly quiet otherwise.Because of the flipped game script, the Saints were forced out of rushing as well as they can. Through just 11 carries between Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Taysom Hill and Ted Ginn Jr., they gained a healthy 51 yards. The Saints have a good offensive line, but it still is better at operating downhill regularly than being called upon to pass protect in high volume for Brees.MORE: Brees explains Saints’ loss in 40 seconds. . . and so is the Saints’ Super Bowl-unworthy weakness.Brees ended up dropping back 51 times and was sacked six times. Going into the game, the Saints had given up only 12 sacks all season. The Saints were also undisciplined, with 12 penalties for 90 yards, and inefficient in going 3 for 15 combined on third and fourth downs.Although those were anomalous developments, there is a takeaway there: The Saints are not at their best when they throw the ball too often.They’re down to being a three-target team, with nothing daunting at wide receiver beyond Michael Thomas. Jared Cook is a good tight end but not really a field-stretcher down the seam, and Kamara, who’s going through an injury-riddled season, hasn’t been the same open-field threat on shorter passes.Brees is an all-time great, but there was no reason to suddenly deviate from what was rolling with Bridgewater and try to invoke the prolific downfield passing of the past that isn’t there in the present. Sure, Brees was able to pick apart the Cardinals in Week 9 in his first game back from a thumb injury, and there was temptation to do the same to a Falcons team that was giving up a ton of big pass plays before Week 10. Before Week 10, the Saints were looking like they were marching toward the top seed in the NFC playoffs for a second consecutive season. After Sunday’s stunning 26-9 home loss to the last-place NFC South rival Falcons, it’s time to try to make sense of what it means.At first glance, it was New Orleans (7-2) simply getting beat up by an inspired Atlanta team (2-7) finally living up to defensive expectations for its beleaguered but beloved head coach, Dan Quinn. On second thought, even one bad game can have lasting repercussions.last_img read more

Steelers now in role of spoilers

first_imgMiami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace (11) shakes hands with Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin before an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. Miami won 34-28. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)After being eliminated from any chance of making the playoffs with a loss to the Miami Dolphins, 34-28 last weekend, the Steelers, 5-8, will now play the role of spoilers for the remainder of the season having to play the AFC North division leading Cincinnati Bengals, 9-4, this weekend.After the big game against the Bengals they will close out against the Green Bay Packers, 6-6-1 and the Cleveland Browns, 3-9. If they win out they could still break even with an 8-8 record, but it’s not likely they will defeat both the Bengals and Packers.The Bengals are still looking to move up into the number two slot if the New England Patriots continue to play the way they have been playing in the first half and finally slip up and lose to someone. The Packers are still in the NFC North race especially if the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, 7-6 continue to be inconsistent.Right now the Baltimore Ravens and the Miami Dolphins are tied for the final AFC playoff spot with three games to go, with several teams at 6-7. The Ravens have a monster schedule facing three division leaders in their final three games. They play the Detroit Lions, 7-6; the Patriots, 10-3 and the Bengals, 9-4. While the Dolphins play the Pats, then the Buffalo Bills,4-9 and the New York Jets, 6-7.last_img read more

Crush Me, Squeeze Me, Make Me Wine Event At Westport Winery

first_imgThe winery is open daily from 11a.m. to 6p.m., with lunch from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, and dinner to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings. Reservations are not necessary to participate in this event just stop by Westport Winery located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road. For more information call Westport Winery at 360-648-2224. If you are looking for a grape-stomping good time, a new garden tour, and unique plants Westport Winery is the place to visit. The winery will provide bins of grapes for you to stomp your way into purple-footed bliss. “Crush” T-shirts will be available to purchase for those who want to immortalize their experience with footprints on their shirt. All ages are welcome to attend this fun-filled event featuring live music from the Harbor’s own Electric Park Jazz Band along withcomplimentary Italian wedding soup. This event is free and all ages are welcome at the winery. Facebook0Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by Westport WineryFormer Grayland and Westport residents’ Kristen Walsh and Christina Bedford won last year’s Lucy and Ethyl Look-Alike Contest. Photo by Ann Bedford.Westport Winery will host the annual Crush Me, Squeeze Me, Make Me Wine At The Beach Festival on Sunday, October 7 from 11 a.m. to 4.p.m. At 3p.m. the winery will hold their Lucy and Ethyl Look-Alike Contest open to men, women, children, and dogs.center_img During this event the winery will launch its new plant nursery as they also open their Gardens of the World display. This young garden when it has matured is designed to transport viewers to their favorite places on earth. The tour is a loop around the winery and into the vineyards where you can “visit” a Hawaiian tropical garden, a French formal garden, an English cottage garden, a Pacific Northwest naturalist garden, an Italian gothic garden, a Japanese Zen garden, and an Atlantis underwatered garden. Creating and recreating memories from fun travels and destinations is something anyone can do in their own yard. The winery’s other gardens have helped to make this one of the post popular destinations in Grays Harbor. The plant nursery is being added in response to guest’s requests to access to the same amazing plants the winery has used on their grounds. Elma artist and plant collector Frank Ratte has joined the winery team to assist guests with their questions.last_img read more

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