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LIFE Yoga, 7AM
An intro course from Zen teacher Thich Thien Tri
Adler's New Orleans, 11AM
Hollywood legend signs copies of 'I Loved Her in the Movies'
Local Brass Band brings a mix of standards and new creations
Marriot Convention Center, 6:30PM
Day one of the inaugural Bourbon Fest
The Broad Theater, 7PM
Short film showcase
Blue Nile 7:30PM
Friday nights with Kermit on Frenchmen
House of Blues, 8PM
Hebrew hip hop
Cafe Istanbul, 8PM
Preview of Merman's new show "Bad Heroine!"
Joy Theater, 8:30PM
Celtic punk, feat. Skinny Lister
One Eyed Jacks, 9PM
Artist mixer before Saturday's Edwardian Ball
Maple Leaf Bar, 10PM
Chapter Soul hosts a Kanye West dance party
Bar Redux, 10PM
All-British dance party
Hi-Ho Lounge, 10PM
Party like it's 1999
Crescent Park, 10AM
Eat to benefit LA/SPCA
Fair Grounds, 12PM
Family day at the grounds
The Yum Yum, 6PM
NPR faves come home from tour
St. Mark's Church, 6PM
Caravan Cinema screens this Natasha Lyonne comedy
Smoothie King Center, 7PM
Feat. Fantasia and Johnny Gill
The Saenger Theatre, 7PM
Comedy superstar brings his "Total Blackout" tour to NOLA
House of Blues, 7PM
80s vs. 90s - decades collide
One Eyed Jack's, 8PM
FdT stages "Alice in Wonderland"
The Howlin' Wolf, 8PM
NOLA's underground art show, plus free pancakes
The Willow, 9PM
Masquerade ball with live music
The Circle Bar, 10PM
Sweat to the oldies with DJ Matty
Le Bon Temps Roule, 11PM
Free show to move and groove
Howlin' Wolf, 12PM
Over a dozen NOLA spots offer their best bloodies, plus food
Magnolia Yoga Studio, 1PM
Free female-led discussion and open house
Playmakers Theater, 2PM
Final staging of drama about painter Mark Rothko
Maple Leaf Bar, 3PM
5th annual boil commemorating the life of the beloved chef and musician
Woonderland Production Studios, 3PM
Live music, drinks, water slides, more
Audubon Park, 5PM
LPO Woodwind Quintet performs
Local trad jazz masters
Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Book Shop, 6PM
Bring games, or join one at the store
Howlin’ Wolf Den, 10PM
Mix of brass standards and funky covers
Spotted Cat, 10PM
Boundary pushing fusion jazz
Maple Leaf, 10PM
Krown on the B3 with Russell Batiste and Walter “Wolfman” Washington
Playoffs, Popeyes Calling for Saints in Chilly Philly
Carnival doesn't start until Monday, but the New Orleans Saints are already steppin' out with new suits and Popeyes. The Black and Gold are in Philadelphia for Saturday's NFC Wild Card playoff clash with the third-seeded Philadelphia Eagles (7 p.m., NBC). Rather than blocking out the postseason distractions, the Saints are fully embracing the hype -- as long as it means they don't have to talk about how they've played on the road.
As the week started, WR Robert Meachem mentioned a meal of Popeyes chicken the players had before their Super Bowl win in 2010. By Friday morning, the entire locker room was enjoying Al Copeland's recipe.
Sean Payton acknowledged that the Saints' nutritionist wasn't likely to approve, but even the laser-focused head coach was acknowledging the intangibles. Lauded for his attention to detail, Payton started the week by saying numerous elements surrounding the players would be taken into consideration.
"We are going to look at, shoot, everything from what we eat, the Gatorade color we are choosing, the sweats we are wearing, and we will change all of that," Payton said.
The coach was especially comfortable talking about the new sweatsuits when the topic of the team's road play came up. Meanwhile, Brees even said he was willing to change up his famed Beefy Mac recipe.
Asked whether it affects the team when the media keeps bringing up the
“Once they try on the sweatsuits I think they are going to realize, man, the way they fit, you ought to see them, they're pretty special," Payton said.
Ever tenacious, Payton wouldn't relent on the topic of the sweatsuits when away games came up. So, a reporter asked him straight up if he was trying to dodge the question.
"Our road record since 2006 is pretty good. I think our road record since 2009 is pretty good," the Coach said. "But I think it would have been better if we had been wearing these sweatsuits, too."
To keep their season alive, the Black and Gold will also have to change up their attack on the field Saturday night, as RB Pierre Thomas was listed out for the game with a chest injury. Along with his prowess catching the screen pass, Thomas' 549 yards were the most production the Saints got out of a member of their stable of running backs on the ground during the regular season.
Darren Sproles is perhaps even more dangerous on the screen, but neither he nor Mark Ingram have been as consistent as Thomas between the tackles this season. The Eagles rank dead last in the league pass defense, so the Black and Gold will likely be able to do plenty of damage if the offensive line can give Brees enough time to look down field. But the frosty conditions (gametime forecast: 26 degrees) and road environment will likely make the run game important when it comes to ball control and wearing out a tough defensive front that includes Trent Cole -- who registered 8 sacks over the last 8 weeks -- and former SEC terror Fletcher Cox. Tough pass rushes in St. Louis, Seattle and against the New York Jets took the Saints out of their rhythm in prior road losses, so the blockers' ability to protect their QB could become a huge factor.
Along with the pass rush, the Saints have also seen their rushing defense carved up in their road losses. The front seven has risen to the occasion against hard-nosed NFC backs like San Francisco's Frank Gore, but was gashed by the likes of the Jets' Chris Ivory and St. Louis' Zac Stacy. On Saturday night, they'll be tasked with shutting down the NFL's leading rusher in Lesean McCoy. Shady, who racked up a pair of league-best stats with 1,607 rushing yards and 2,146 all purpose yards, has thrived under first-year head coach Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense. Never one to line up the tackles and run straight at the defense, the former University of Oregon coach deploys his featured backs in a variety of looks that even the creative Payton isn't used to seeing.
"This is a unique offense though in the type of runs you’re receiving compared to maybe a more conventional run list that you might see on a week-to-week basis," Payton said. "Finding your gaps and being on top of where the runner is, all those things are important.”
The other key to Kelly's transition to the NFL has been QB Nick Foles. The second-year signal caller out of Arizona rose to the starting spot when Michael Vick was plagued by injuries, but has quickly adapted to the up-tempo style that is known for alignments that will look unusual (even to Saints fans) and snapping the ball as quickly as possible after it's placed. In preparation, Rob Ryan's Saints defense has also been in a hurry this week, and it's not just because they had less time than usual between games.
"Nobody is practicing at a faster tempo than us in the history of football so I think we will be ready to go," Ryan said. "I know they will be faster than I have ever seen, but that's fine.”
For all of Foles' hurrying, however, Brees remains ahead. Though it was ten years apart, the two attended the Westlake High School outside Austin, Tex. Often fond of recalling his first taste of glory upon winning the state championship, Brees is very familiar with Westlake's record ever since -- including the year where a Foles-led went to the championship game and lost.
"I know they went to at least three or four state championships after my class left. They haven’t won another one though," Brees said. "We have the only state championship victory."
On Saturday, Brees can ensure that he remains the only of the pair with a Super Bowl victory, as well. The elder Westlake alum can stay a step ahead by keeping the ball out of Foles' hands early in the game. Another characteristic that has remained constant in the Saints' last three road losses is early turnovers that came out of number 9's hands.
With a +12 turnover ratio during the regular season, the Eagles' defense will be licking their chops to pounce on a Breesus transgression.
"I definitely say there is something with momentum on the road especially when you are in a hostile environment," Brees acknowledged. "Don’t give them a reason to get excited. Don’t give their fans a reason to stand up and get crazy."
In the regular season finale against Tampa, the Saints clocked an early touchdown to set the tone. The early TD was also a hallmark of the 2009 season, which laid down a path to glory.
"I think one of our things is we really haven’t started fast on the road and that is something certainly we can improve on,something we are focusing on and that can be a big part of our success too," Brees said.
Evan Z.E. Hammond, Dead Huey, Andrew Smith
Michael Weber, B.A.
B. E. Mintz