2014 DRAFT GUIDE
High-powered Saints visit struggling Raiders

By JOSH DUBOW - AP Sports Writer
    2012-11-15 14:59

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The New Orleans Saints have overcome an 0-4 start and the distractions from the bounty scandal to fight their way right back into position for a possible late-season playoff run.

First they have to get their record back to .500.

All that stands between the high-powered Saints and that modest goal is a struggling Oakland Raiders team that has allowed 97 points the past two weeks and matched a franchise-worst for points allowed in last week's 55-20 loss at Baltimore.

``Man, if Baltimore can put up 55, you don't even want to see what New Orleans can do,'' Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said.

The Saints (4-5) have done quite a bit since the 0-4 start under a cloud from the bounty allegations that led to a season-long suspension for coach Sean Payton and other punishments that have been a distraction all year. With four wins in the past five games, including a 31-27 victory last week over previously unbeaten Atlanta, New Orleans has worked its way back into contention.

But there is little margin for error. The schedule gets much tougher after Sunday's game in Oakland (3-6) with the following three games against division leaders, meaning the Saints can ill-afford a slipup against the struggling Raiders.

``When you dig yourself a hole like we have, every game you play is going to be critical,'' interim coach Joe Vitt said. ``Anything other than our best effort and we're going to have a long Sunday.''

The Saints have been close to their best in recent weeks. After uncharacteristically throwing five interceptions the first three games, Drew Brees has completed 71 percent of his passes the last two weeks with five TDs and only one interception. The running game, energized by Chris Ivory, has produced 288 yards on the ground the past two weeks.

And even the porous defense has stepped up of late, holding Philadelphia to 13 points two weeks ago and coming up with the late goal-line stand that sealed the win against the Falcons.

``They're back in the groove,'' Raiders cornerback Ron Bartell said. ``They're doing what they normally do. ... He's putting up huge numbers. They're doing a better job of protecting him. He's getting the ball out of his hands. His receivers are making plays. Basically the normal New Orleans Saints offense.''

Which is what's so scary for the Raiders.

The Raiders have been up-and-down defensively this season, getting gashed on the ground early in the season by Miami and then getting overwhelmed by Peyton Manning and Denver before a bye week.

Oakland then put together a fairly strong three-week stretch, holding down Matt Ryan and the Falcons to one offensive touchdown and beating one-win Jacksonville and Kansas City in back-to-back weeks.

But the last two weeks have been as bad as it's ever been defensively in Oakland. Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin ran for 251 yards in a 42-32 win two weeks ago. That was followed by the drubbing in Baltimore when Joe Flacco picked the Raiders apart for 341 yards and three touchdowns as the Ravens matched the most points ever allowed by the Raiders.

``I know the team that we're going to face is not the team that gave up 55 points last week or 42 points against Tampa,'' Brees said.

``It's a play here, it's a play there, it's a big play here, a big play there that can typically affect the outcome of a game. This defense has a lot of very talented players on it. They have played very, very well at times. I know that, for us, we're going to have to play our best game and worry about our execution, and that's what we're focused on.''

That Oakland is struggling so much on defense comes as a bit of a surprise for the Saints, who know Oakland first-year coach Dennis Allen so well. Allen spent five years as a defensive assistant in New Orleans, helping the team win the Super Bowl following the 2009 season as defensive backs coach.

After spending one year as defensive coordinator in Denver the 40-year-old Allen got his first head coaching gig this year in Oakland.

``He deserves it, man,'' Saints safety Roman Harper said. ``He's a great coach. He understands everything it takes to win and I know he'll get those guys going. They've had some ups and downs but at the end of the day that's going to happen, especially when you're a new coach somewhere. He's going to have them just fine though.''

Allen coached four years in Atlanta before joining Payton's first staff on the Saints in 2006. He credited that experience with getting him to where he is now.

``I started coaching in the NFL in Atlanta, but I grew up in the NFL in New Orleans,'' he said. ``I got a lot of good memories there, and we were able to win a championship. So it was a big part of my development as a coach.''

---

AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in Metairie, La., contributed to this report

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Johnny ManzielAug 21 08:22a

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel will not have a package of plays created for him to run off the bench, according to head coach Mike Pettine. Manziel has been [ More ]

Geno SmithAug 21 02:23a

New York Jets QB Geno Smith will start Week 1 versus the Oakland Raiders, barring an injury. The coaching staff has yet to officially name Smith the starter.

Geno AtkinsAug 21 12:53a

Cincinnati Bengals DE Geno Atkins (knee) will be ready for the regular season opener against the Baltimore Ravens Sept. 7, head coach Marvin Lewis said Wednesday, Aug. 20. In [ More ]

Walt AikensAug 21 12:53a

Miami Dolphins CB Walt Aikens (hand) is sidelined indefinitely due to a left hand injury suffered a practice earlier this week. No timetable has been established for his return.

Tyler WilsonAug 21 12:53a

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (hip), DT David King (undisclosed), CB Lavelle Westbrooks (undisclosed) and QB Tyler Wilson (head) were unable to practice Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Andre SmithAug 21 12:53a

Cincinnati Bengals OT Andre Smith (concussion) said Wednesday, Aug. 20, that he expects to get cleared to play in the preseason game Sunday, Aug. 24, against the Arizona Cardinals. [ More ]

Jalil BrownAug 21 12:53a

Miami Dolphins CB Jalil Brown, CB Don Jones, FS Jordan Kovacs and FS Michael Thomas appear to be fighting for two roster spots. Thomas has reportedly had a good [ More ]

Knowshon MorenoAug 21 12:53a

Miami Dolphins RB Knowshon Moreno (knee) said Wednesday, Aug. 20, that he feels good. The team wants to see him practice Thursday, Aug. 21, before deciding if he will [ More ]

Andre JohnsonAug 20 10:43p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson has showed no signs of rust from his time away from the team this offseason. Johnson had an impressive practice during joint workouts with [ More ]

Trent RichardsonAug 20 10:33p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson is off to a slow start in training camp and the preseason, posting just 34 yards in 14 attempts. At 2.4 yards per carry, [ More ]

Emmanuel SandersAug 20 10:33p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (quadriceps) was involved in practice Wednesday, Aug. 20, but he is not working in 'live' setting yet. Head coach John Fox would not rule [ More ]

Montee BallAug 20 10:33p

Denver Broncos RB Montee Ball (appendix) continues to do more work in practice each day, but most of his work continues to be outside of the team structure. However, [ More ]

LeGarrette BlountAug 20 07:53p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB LeGarrette Blount and RB Le'Veon Bell were charged by Ross Township Police Wednesday, Aug. 20, with marijuana possession.

Le'Veon BellAug 20 07:43p

Pittsburgh Pirates RB Le'Veon Bell and RB LeGarrette Blount were charged by Ross Township Police Wednesday, Aug. 20, with marijuana possession. Bell was also charged with driving under the [ More ]

Ryan McBeanAug 20 05:53p

The Arizona Cardinals signed DT Ryan McBean (Ravens) Wednesday, Aug. 20. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Colt LyerlaAug 20 05:43p

The Green Bay Packers placed TE Colt Lyerla (knee) on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Pat DevlinAug 20 05:33p

Free-agent WR Kevin Elliott (Bills), LS Chad Rempel (Bears), QB Pat Devlin (Dolphins) and DT Jibreel Black (Buccaneers) all cleared waivers Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Vontaze BurfictAug 20 05:33p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict agreed to a multi-year contract extension Wednesday, Aug. 20. Terms of the new deal were not disclosed.

Isaac SopoagaAug 20 05:13p

The Arizona Cardinals signed DT Isaac Sopoaga (Patriots) Wednesday, Aug. 20, per a league source. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Jordan NorwoodAug 20 04:53p

Denver Broncos WR Jordan Norwood (knee) suffered a torn acute cruciate ligament in practice Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Isaiah PeadAug 20 04:33p

The St. Louis Rams waived RB Isaiah Pead (knee) with a waived/injured designation Wednesday, Aug. 20. Pead will revert back to the roster if he clears waivers.

Phillip TannerAug 20 03:43p

The Indianapolis Colts waived RB Phillip Tanner Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Dexter McDougleAug 20 03:43p

The New York Jets placed CB Dexter McDougle (knee) on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Aug. 20.

David FluellenAug 20 03:23p

The Indianapolis Colts acquired RB David Fluellen (Eagles) in exchange for PK Cody Parkey Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Desmond BryantAug 20 02:53p

Cleveland Browns DE Desmond Bryant (wrist) recently underwent wrist surgery. Head coach Mike Pettine said he is not sure if Bryant will be available to play Week 1.

S. SylvesterAug 20 02:43p

The Buffalo Bills have placed LB Stevenson Sylvester (undisclosed) on the Reserve/Injured list.

Michael CrabtreeAug 20 02:33p

San Francisco 49ers WR Michael Crabtree said he did not feel like himself when he returned from offseason Achilles' tendon surgery last season. 'I was fast enough to be [ More ]

Fendi OnobunAug 20 02:23p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have waived/injured TE Fendi Onobun (knee).

Eric KettaniAug 20 02:23p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed free-agent FB Eric Kettani (Chiefs). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Sebastian VollmerAug 20 01:13p

New England Patriots OT Sebastian Vollmer (undisclosed) was not on the field during practice Wednesday, Aug. 20. Vollmer has missed the last three practices because of an undisclosed reason.

Peyton HillisAug 20 01:03p

New York Giants CB Prince Amukamara (groin), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), RB Peyton Hillis (ankle, foot), OT Charles Brown (shoulder) and OT James Brewer (back) are not participating in practice Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Cody WallaceAug 20 12:53p

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Shaquille Richardson (knee), LB Jordan Zumwalt (hamstring), TE Eric Waters (concussion), C Cody Wallace (finger) and LS Greg Warren (knee) will not play in the third preseason game.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group