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Saints vs. 49ers: Why San Francisco's Defense Will Dominate Drew Brees

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Aldon Smith #99 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
David LevinSenior Writer IIJanuary 14, 2012

All that is left is playing the game.

This is the NFL's classic case of a very good offense being tested by a very good defense. While it may not be the Raiders and Steelers of the 1970s or the 49ers and Giants of the 1980s, it is still a game which could prove to be the establishment of one of the NFL's great franchise gaining its dominance back.

The San Francisco 49ers have proven to be one of the better defenses this season, taking down the likes of the Steelers, Eagles, Lions and the Giants. Last time I looked, three of those teams were in this year's playoff party.

And they seem to be peaking at the right time. While other teams are loaded with defensive stars, the 49ers have quietly become a scary defense. And that is why they could be a nightmare for the Saints offense.

In comes New Orleans, huffing and puffing like the huge steam engine it is and the team that looks to pass through every defense until it holds the Lombardi Trophy again. Drew Brees set records all season and his core of receivers got another gift in the way of Jimmy Graham at tight end this year.

So, who has the advantage? If you believe in the adage that defense wins championships then give the game to San Francisco. Travel, a new opponent and the unknown favor the younger upstart team. They shut down the run (having been first in overall run defense this season) and cover the outside receivers pretty well.

While it might not be a domination of sorts where Drew Brees only passes for 250 yards and one touchdown (perish the thought), it maybe one where the 49ers confuse the Saints offense and force them into passing situations that are not conducive to the flow of the game Saints head coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael are used to seeing.

This won't be a game like the Saints played against the Rams earlier this season, but the 49ers do just enough to take good teams out of their rhythm and that, could spell disaster for the Saints. While the 49ers will set the tone, the Saints could continue the roll, which ultimately will lead to their own demise.

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