The 49ers ranked fourth in the NFL, allowing just 308.2 yards per game this season, but the Saints present a whole different animal than any team San Francisco has faced this season. New Orleans had the league's top offense this season, averaging a ridiculous 467.1 yards per game. The Saints also ranked first in passing yards (334.2 yards per game) and sixth in rushing yards (132.9 yards per game), while averaging 34.2 points per game, which ranked second in the NFL.
In Drew Brees, New Orleans has a quarterback who just completed one of the best seasons in league history. The 32-year-old led the NFL in completions (468), completion percentage (71.2) and touchdowns (46). He also set the NFL's single-season passing record (5,476 yards). His passer rating of 110.6 was second only to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' record-breaking mark of 122.5.
The Saints beat the Detroit Lions 45-28 in the opening round of the playoffs, in a game that saw Brees throw for 466 yards and three touchdowns. I don't expect a similar performance this weekend, but I do think New Orleans will be able to move the football almost at will.
The 49ers finished the year with the NFL's 16th-ranked pass defense, as they allowed 230.9 yards per game. The team's secondary needs to get a whole lot better to stop Brees and company this weekend.
The Saints have never won a road playoff, as they are 0-4 all-time. This year, they face a 49ers team that has gone 7-1 at home while allowing just 10.9 points per game in their home stadium. It will take a great performance from New Orleans to beat the 49ers on the road. But I expect Brees and his offense to come through with a big day.