Midway through the third quarter, Drew Brees doubled as the conductor of the Who Dat Nation's hype train. New Orleans bullied its way to a 24-6 edge with less than 21 minutes until the play clock reached its expiration date.
Then, Jamaal Charles bounced outside, brushed by a would-be tackler and hightailed it to the end zone with evil T-1000-like determination.
Eventually, New Orleans' surefire win regressed to a gut-wrenching 27-24 defeat.
While the Saints subsequently won five of their next seven contests, the Chiefs left Bourbon Street with a nine-week hangover.
Out with the old; in the with new.
Kansas City underwent a full-fledged 2013 makeover and trimmed the fat. [Place your ironic Andy Reid joke here.] Reid and John Dorsey shook up the Chiefs' roster like an Etch A Sketch and flooded sports tickers by acquiring Alex Smith—the first in a hoard of offseason additions.
New Orleans welcomed Sean Payton back with open arms and reconfigured its woeful defense from the ground up. Rob Ryan flipped the defensive script and converted his personnel from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme. Everybody knows how well oiled the Saints' offensive machine is. However, the club's playoff aspirations will ultimately rely on the unreliable: its defense.
A unit is only as strong as its building blocks, and the NFL's annual scavenger hunt is moments away from renewing its lease.
Kansas City Chiefs
|Players to Watch|
|11||Alex Smith||Quarterback||New team, new coach, new offense.|
|72||Eric Fisher (R)||Tackle||No. 1 pick, battled hand injuries in camp, transitioned to right tackle.|
|92||Dontari Poe||Nose Tackle||Lost 15 pounds, will play more one-gap technique in 2013.|
|87||Travis Kelce (R)||Tight End||Better-than-average receiver, punishing blocker, will be used in two-tight-end sets.|
|9||Tyler Bray (R)||Quarterback||Slings rockets, battling for No. 3 quarterback slot.|
|90||Austen Lane||Defensive end||Impressed in camp, could be used in pass-rushing sub packages.|
Other Noteworthy Newcomers: CB Sean Smith, DE Mike DeVito, TE Anthony Fasano, CB Dunta Robinson, WR Donnie Avery, G Geoff Schwartz, LB Akeem Jordan, FB Anthony Sherman, S Quintin Demps, RB Knile Davis (R), LB Nico Johnson (R), QB Chase Daniel.
Undrafted Up-and-Comer: WR Rico Richardson (R).
Key Injuries: T Donald Stephenson (out), S Sanders Commings (R, out), WR Junior Hemingway (out), DE/LB Mike Catapano (R, out).
B/R's Best- and Worst-Case Season Scenarios: Kansas City Chiefs
New Orleans Saints
|Players to Watch|
|94||Cameron Jordan||Defensive End||Breakout 2012 campaign, switching from 4-3 to a 3-4 in 2013.|
|71||Charles Brown||Tackle||Replacing Jermon Bushrod at left tackle, favorite for starting job.|
|32||Kenny Vaccaro (R)||Safety||Slightly less athletic than Eric Berry; every bit as fearless.|
|93||Junior Galette||Outside Linebacker||Pass-rushing camp standout, questionable due to injury.|
|91||Akiem Hicks||Defensive Tackle/End||Deceptively explosive, supplants Kenyon Coleman (torn pectoral).|
|84||Kenny Stills (R)||Wide Receiver||Vertical threat, could replace Joe Morgan (torn meniscus).|
Other Noteworthy Newcomers: CB Keenan Lewis, WR Steve Breaston, S Jim Leonhard, T Terron Armstead (R), TE Benjamin Watson, NT John Jenkins (R), QB Luke McCown, QB Seneca Wallace.
Undrafted Up-and-Comer: LB Kevin Reddick (R).
Key Injuries: WR Marques Colston (questionable), NT Kenyon Coleman (out), WR Joe Morgan (out), LB Martez Wilson, QB Seneca Wallace (out).
B/R's Best- and Worst-Case Season Scenarios: New Orleans Saints
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