Up The Gut Week 5: Brees Injury Could Be Blessing In Disguise

Drew Brees is resting his 40-year-old arm, and the Saints keep winning; this could pay off come playoff time, Shaun Morash says

The DA Show
October 03, 2019 - 10:10 am
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By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

Could the Saints and Drew Brees be asking for a perfect script while he is out with a thumb injury? The Saints have now ripped off back-to-back wins versus likely NFC playoff teams at Seattle and at home against the Cowboys, all while Teddy Bridgewater is proving to be more of a game manager than here to take Brees’ job. The Saints defense is showing what we should have already known: they are a legitimate top-10 force, especially with their pass rush, and offensively the Saints aren't turning the ball over.

The real key here, while the Saints continue to put wins in their pockets, is that Brees is healing and rehabbing, but also his arm is resting, saving its bullets, which, at his age, cannot be understated. For as well as the Saints played the last two years – a miracle in Minnesota and a ref screw job in New Orleans took them out in back-to-back years – Brees was not exactly lighting it up in December and January. That is to be expected when you get older and your name isn't Tom Brady. Perhaps this year, the Brees injury will be a blessing in disguise, allowing him to rest while the Saints continue to win and win while showing they still need Brees to lead them to more points. A perfect situation is unfolding in New Orleans for all parties involved.

Ten Yard Gain

1-Bravo to the NFL for finally getting a suspension right with Vontaze Burfict. Ugly hits, dangerous hits, are sadly always going to be a part of the game, but how many chances does Burfict get to change his reckless play? The NFL may do a lot wrong when it comes to handing out penalties, but in terms of player safety, suspending Burfict for the rest of the season was a needed example. 

2-Kirk Cousins is atrocious. Let's stop even calling him mediocre because that wouldn't be fair to the word mediocre. Of course any quarterback can struggle versus the Bears defense, but having Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook and doing absolutely nothing on that side of the ball in a division game versus a team that just lost its starting quarterback is unacceptable. However, was truly makes Cousins atrocious, ironically, is that he will be just good enough to keep the Vikings out of the top-eight picks in this draft, where they need to be to find a real franchise quarterback.

3-The story not written after the Bills’ loss at home to the Patriots that should be discussed more is that a legitimate blueprint for slowing down the Patriots in 2019 has been laid out, even in a loss. That was the worst Tom Brady has looked in years in a single game. Combine that with him admittedly needing to take less practice reps due to age, and there may be blood in the water. It is easy to flex your muscle versus the Dolphins and Jets, but legitimate defenses and teams are still to come for the Patriots, and Sunday in Buffalo showed they can be had. 

4-John Elway is a prime example of why you don't hire franchise legends to run your team, because it makes it impossible to fire them when they don't do their job. The Broncos are 0-4 for the first time since 1999 and rather than bottom out and properly find a franchise quarterback (not taking Paxton Lynch), Elway has continued to find below-average, aging veterans to try and navigate a defense-first team. Only his defense has done nothing but regress since Super Bowl 50. Joe Flacco was a mistake to bring in, but do we even trust John Elway next draft? He could easily pass on a Jake Fromm because Drew Lock is already on the roster. Which may be yet another colossal mistake.

5-Nick Foles should still get his job back, despite Minshew Mania. Gardner Minshew may be a find for Jacksonville, maybe he will be the future face of the franchise. He should, in theory, only get better. However, Leonard Fournette carried that Jags rally on Sunday; it was Minshew's mustache that made us feel differently. Now the Jags are saved from falling out of the terrible AFC South division. No matter what, they should be alive for a division title in a month when Nick Foles returns, and Foles has had second-half heroics for his teams before. Foles should absolutely get his job back, no matter how brash Gardner Minshew continues to look. 

6-The Odell Beckham Jr. enabling saga is alive and well in Cleveland. Despite a 40-point output from the Browns offense and a monster division win, the story postgame was Odell Beckham Jr throwing a punch because he was angry he lost an earring. Yes, that happened. He was choked out as a result. Rather than tell Odell Beckham that his behavior is unacceptable, Freddie Kitchens enabled Odell, calling for an ejection of Marlon Humphrey for the choke out. The Odell excuse train is never late, get aboard Cleveland. 

7-Daniel Jones made two crucial rookie mistakes in his first two career interceptions in back-to-back drives on Sunday. He followed that up by leading the Giants right down the field for a field goal to end the half. His unflappable nature was on full display in this game. The going got tough, he looked at the tough, laughed at it, pushed through and led the team to yet another victory. Many outside of New York may feel Jones is being overrated, but to see how truly good he can be, you don’t need to look at the box scores for stats; it is how he handles the down moments. That started with getting booed by Giants fans at draft day and continued after two interceptions against Washington. 

8-The declining play of the Texans offense is inexcusable under Bill O'Brien. Carolina's defense came to play, but they aren't the Bears. Ten points at home versus a Kyle Allen-led Panthers team isn't promising. After all of the brash moves before Week 1, a 2-2 September and looking like the worst team in the worst division isn't something for O'Brien to hang is hat on. There may be no team and coach outside of Atlanta and Dan Quinn with more pressure on them in the month of October. 

9-You are a fool if you bet on the Titans and claim you have figured them out. Marcus Mariota balled out in Atlanta, but each week he and the Titans are truly like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get. So I am here to put it on record – call me a hypocrite if and when I do this – but I will not be gambling on any Titans games going forward. Much like a Cheesecake Factory menu for dinner, the Titans are impossible to figure out. 

10-Is Bruce Arians coaching the Bucs into quarterback hell? Jameis Winston has cut down on mistakes, although still making two crucial ones in each of the last two weeks. However, his stats are there, and the Bucs are 2-2. If Arians taps into this Jameis and continues to have success, the Bucs may just end up 8-8, out of position for their next guy, and leaving Tampa Bay to potentially commit to Jameis Winston who is probably what we already know he is: a below average quarterback with moments of flashiness. 

Five Games To Chew On

5 Colts @ Chiefs: Just when you want to buy into Jacoby Brissett and the Colts, they allow the Raiders to come into their building and punch them in the mouth. Brissett battled back and almost led a comeback, but it wasn't enough. Now in a muddled AFC South they have to go on the road and play what is probably the best team in football in the Chiefs. This can be a big statement on national TV for Jacoby's Colts to show they are for real, or they could get embarrassed leaving many to not take them seriously again in 2019. 

4 Vikings @ Giants: Daniel Jones has somehow played the Giants, who looked dead at 0-2, into a top-five game of the week. The Giants secondary has looked better over the last six quarters, but we all know they are far from elite. All eyes are on Kirk Cousins to finally show he can make plays again. If he falters here, you may start to hear trade rumors flying for a guy like Stefon Diggs. Oh, and Giants coach Pat Shurmur knows Mike Zimmer's Vikings better than any other head coach, having been his offensive coordinator just two years ago. An interesting early game on Sunday from New Jersey. 

3 Bills @ Titans: As I stated, who can figure out the Titans? One week, they look like a bottom-five team; the next week, they look like a playoff spoiler. Now they play the Bills, who will likely be without Josh Allen at home. The Bills defense is healthy, though, and looking to put pressure on Mariota. This game could have sneaky AFC Playoff tiebreaker implications for the winner. 

2 Browns @ 49ers: The 49ers come off of the bye week and into Monday Night Football unbeaten at 3-0. The Browns amazingly will play their third prime-time game of the season already. They may have had their coming-out party in Baltimore, but the true test of a playoff team's grit is putting together a winning streak and beating good teams consecutively. This would be that box to check on the road with all eyes once again on Freddie Kitchens’ play-calling. 

1 Packers @ Cowboys:  Two NFC division leaders, each coming off brutally bad losses. For Green Bay, their offense is still not quite there, and that isn't good news as the Cowboys defense eats up bad offenses and spits them out like I do with chicken bones every Sunday. The Packers defense wilted on Thursday Night Football after taking bows for three weeks, and Kellen Moore is facing adversity for the first time as a coordinator following the Cowboys’ 10-point output in New Orleans. This game could be a low-scoring or high-scoring classic, but don't expect a blowout one way or another. 

My Picks

Another 2-1 week has me at 8-4 this season and climbing. For this week:

Ravens -3.5 @ Steelers: The Ravens have been a roller coaster of emotions against the spread this season. They backdoor cover on the Chiefs, they roll Miami without sweating, and get pounded on the ground by the Browns and lose outright. This week, they face their most bitter rivals, who some are back to buying into after a Monday Night win. The Ravens, though, are the better team, and John Harbaugh knows better than most coaches you cannot lose back-to-back games inside the division. The Steelers don't have the weapons that the Browns do, and the Steelers defense won't stop Lamar Jackson. This is a huge bounce-back for Baltimore. 

Cardinals +3.5 @ Bengals: Wait, the Bengals are favored? Winless, AND off a short week? I know the Cardinals stink too, I know it is a West Coast team traveling to the East Coast for an early kick, but the Bengals should only be favored over the Dolphins, and even that is a stretch this season. Kyler Murray wins his first game Sunday. End of discussion. 

Chiefs -10.5 vs Colts: Jacoby Brissett had me finally believing a week ago. As it turns out, he was just doing what everyone will probably do this year: beat an overrated Falcons team. He played well against Oakland, though, even leading a mini-comeback of sorts. His defense, however, could not stop Derek Carr. Now on the road, in primetime, I am to expect them to slow down Patrick Mahomes? Not to mention Mahomes is coming off a bad game by his standards. The Chiefs will lay the wood in prime time. 

Football Food of The Week

The food of the week saga has been full of emotions and dips through September. I leave this week's food up to the man behind the Instagram account @up_the_gut, loyal listener and reader "Moose." He has challenged me with a recipe, so I will pass it along to you.

Bacon Jalapeño Popper Wonton Cups 

Brush some oil on the inside of a mini-muffin tray. Place a Wonton wrapper down into each cup (as many as you want to make) and then brush those with a bit of oil as well. Bake the empty wonton cups in a 350-degree oven for five minutes or so until brown. Take them out to cool a bit.

While those cool, fry four or five pieces of bacon to your liking. Chop into very small pieces. Then, remove the seeds and insides of three to four jalapeño peppers and chop them very small as well. In a bowl, mix about 1/2 cup or so of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of sour cream. (Amounts will vary depending on how many you are making.) Blend that with the chopped bacon, peppers, and some finely shredded cheese of your choice until evenly mixed. (Set aside a bit of bacon, peppers, and cheese to sprinkle on top.) Spoon a couple spoonfuls of filling into each cup and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, bacon, and peppers. Bake for 5-10 minutes at 350 until the cheese is melted and the filling is hot. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!​

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.