Week 3 brought us a match-up between two teams desperately in search of their first win. The New Orleans Saints played host to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday. After losing by at least two touchdowns in their first games of the season, the Chiefs found themselves in the same predicament well into the third quarter against the Saints.
However, Kansas City found a swing of momentum that would propel them to a 27-24 overtime victory. After watching the two teams play for 68:33, I've gathered some things worth sharing.
Let's take a glimpse at five things we're able to take away from this game.
The Saints ended last season with the 24th ranked defense. However, when your offense is ranked No. 1 overall, poor defensive play can get overlooked. Well the Saints offense hasn't been as potent to start this season, as they've been in years past; bringing more attention to the fact that the defensive problems are just that -- a problem.
The Saints defense fell eight spots since last season, from the 24th ranked to the 32nd, which in turn, makes them dead last. Although we're only three weeks into the season, this is never where you want to see yourself as a team or a coaching staff.
With Jonathan Vilma suspended, then reinstated, then put on the PUP list, the Saints are missing him more than ever. His play surely, but more so his leadership and presence on the field. Defensive captains are put into place to make sure the team stays in sync while on the field, and without Vilma, the Saints look lost at times. More often than any member of the "WhoDat Nation", would ever care to admit.
Steve Spagnuolo: Change Must Take Place
If Steve Spagnuolo would like to stay in New Orleans, he needs to change the culture of their defense quickly. I'm sure after these first few weeks he's asked himself had he gone back to St. Louis. There has to be changes immediately, for the Saints are facing both Aaron Rodgers and Phillip Rivers in the next two weeks.
My pre-season analysis would've led me to believe that these are both games that are well within reach of the Saints. With Aaron Rodgers being an elite quarterback, and Phillip Rivers off to the great start that he is, I can't see the Saints winning either of these without a tremendous change in the culture of their defense.
At this point, the Saints don't strike fear into anyone, especially not veteran quarterbacks.
I realized this early in the week via a conversation with a colleague. I had the option of starting DeMarco Murray (Cowboys standout running back) or Jamaal Charles. Although I'm a die-hard Cowboys fan, this was an easy decision. Charles it was. And although Murray had a fantasy projection of 20 points; Charles' projection of 11 points was never a deterrent.
The difference, I knew that Kansas City was looking to give Charles more carries this week, and they were going to do so against a team who couldn't stop the run. Needless to say, Charles got me over 30 points.
Coach Spagnuolo, the pressure is on! Feel it and make a difference, because this is a bad start that can quickly get worse.
Sean Payton: The Difference Maker
When the team does well, the players normally get most of the praise. When the team does poorly, we focus our attention on the coaching.
This season has been a true testament to how valuable Sean Payton is to the Saints' organization.
When coaches come to an organization, they bring in a culture that is normally different from that of their predecessor. One of the keys to doing so successfully is to get your players to buy into your system. Payton has not only gotten his players to buy into his coaching, but the "WhoDat Nation" in its entirety.
Even with most of the key players still in place, there is a big hole left on the sideline. The bold play calling and chewing of Juicy Fruit gum has become signature for the Saints and Sean Payton.
Although Drew Brees set the new passing record last season, it has become more evident that Payton was the clear-cut MVP.
Kansas City Chiefs: Young and Talented
Everyone who knows football would agree that the Kansas City Chiefs has a lot of young, talented players. Their extremely athletic and they possess the ability to make big plays on both sides of the ball.
Matt Cassel, franchise quarterback connected on passes to nine different receivers today. They are not afraid to share the ball. We're starting to see teams all across the league spread the ball out successfully, getting more players involved to throw off scouting reports.
I've always thought that the Chiefs were one veteran leader away from being a threat. Well, I feel like that leader can in the form of a coach. Romeo Crennel taking the team over last year should've brought about a few "Uh Ohs" from teams across the league. With his coaching ability and the talent that they possess, they prove to be a viable threat to every team they face.
Although they’re talented, Kansas City has had problems stringing wins together. They run the score up on teams with ease yet are vulnerable to having the same done to them, which makes it hard to gage how good or bad they really are as a team. Consistency is key component that should be preached in the Chiefs locker room.
With the impressive comeback win today, maybe they can carry that momentum into their next meeting with the division rival, Chargers. If they can put together a winning streak, we may see them in the post-season.
Jamaal Charles is Back
Although I expected a big game from Jamaal Charles, I didn't think he would be making a highlight reel. Charles left last week's game against the Bills after hitting his surgically reconstructed knee during the game. Coach Crennel chose to use caution, even after Charles said he was fine.
Jamaal Charles came back this week and proved to everybody that the knee was in fact fine, and he was back. Charles was responsible for 233 yards on 33 carries, as well as six catches for an additional 55 yards. His running was highlighted by a 91 yard run in the third quarter that sparked the comeback for the Chiefs.
Running back Peyton Hillis was brought in this season to help carry the load while Charles was on his way back to recovery. But after Hillis went down with an ankle injury, Charles had to put the running game on his back and he did so convincingly.
If Hillis' injury causes him to be out for a while, expect to see more carries by Charles. With the return of his confidence, comes the return of his ability to make the cuts, hurdle defenders, catch out of the backfield, or simply run pass the defense.
What the Future Holds
Look for Charles to rush for over 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Chargers next week. The Chiefs welcome the San Diego Chargers to Arrowhead next week in a game that if they play as they did in the second half of this week's game, should get their second consecutive win.
Chiefs 24-20 over the Chargers.
Things don't get easier for the Saints. New Orleans will find themselves at Lambeau Field next week to take on the Green Bay Packers. With the addition of Cedric Benson, to help balance the Packers' attack, I don't see this Saints defense being able to slow down the Packers.
Unless they re-invent themselves at practice this week, I can't see New Orleans getting their first win in Green Bay.
Packers over Saints, 31-23.