The New Orleans Saints have quietly put together a team that year in and year out can contend for a championship. Their offense is one of the best in the NFL behind Drew Brees and their rediscovered running game, and Rob Ryan has the defense playing out of their heads.
The last time they had a team like this they won the Super Bowl. In fact, the parallels between this year's team and their 2009 squad are plentiful. They both dominated the first part of the season, can score in an instant and have a defense that can match almost any offense. One might argue that this team is more balanced than their last championship team.
Now, New Orleans may have lost out on another division title and the second seed in the NFC, but being the NFC's sixth seed could be best for them. It has been either a fourth seed or lower that has won the Super Bowl in each of the past three years, and that trend could continue with the Saints this season.
Brees has an 18-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio since Week 10, and has New Orleans' offense riding high into the playoffs. Although it lost in Weeks 15 and 16, it got back on track with a 42-17 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the season finale.
When you look at this team cover to cover, it's hard to find anything missing. The Saints have both a top-five offense and defense, not to mention they are only a few years removed from their last Super Bowl run.
New Orleans is an experienced playoff team that has a level of chemistry on offense that any team would love to have.
Its next contest comes against the Philadelphia Eagles during Wild Card Weekend, a game that will be key in sustaining momentum from the end of the regular season. The Eagles' secondary has been exposed on several occasions this season, and if anyone can take advantage of that it's Brees.
If New Orleans can get off to a hot start this postseason, it could very easily ride that momentum all the way to the top. Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: This is a scary team.