As Week 13 of the NFL season beings, I have to remember that the Saints are playing on Sunday Night Football this week. I love watching the Saints on national television, but it seems as if those extra seven hours until kickoff take days to come.
However, this Sunday I will be watching a few other NFL teams to see how well they play and if they can match up against the Saints. The Saints are currently 8-3 and have a good chance of winning the division and making the playoffs.
We have a pretty good idea of how well the Saints can play. While we wait for the showdown against the Lions, we can take the chance to check out some other teams in the NFL
Here are five games that Saints fans should keep an eye on during Sunday.
This game intrigues me very much.
The San Francisco 49ers are a team that the Saints could very well end up playing in the playoffs after the regular season ends. The 49ers are currently one game ahead of the Saints, and they also own the tiebreaker thanks to the respective teams' conference records.
This is the first time that the 49ers have played the Rams this year. I am interested to see if Steven Jackson and the Rams can run the ball on the 49ers' first-ranked rushing defense. I also want to see how the 49ers bounce back after a tough loss in Baltimore.
If the Rams are able to have any success running the ball, then that will bode well for the Saints. It will also be good to gauge the 49ers offense. I believe that they are good, but may not be able to keep up with the Saints in a shootout.
I am definitely hoping that the Rams can find a way to win this one so that the Saints can come closer to the NFC second seed and first-round bye.
No matter what happens in this game, it will be fun to watch a San Francisco team that the Saints could be playing soon.
I will be keeping an eye on this game for one reason, and that is because the Saints play the Titans in Week 14.
There will be a couple things that I will be looking for in this game. I want to see how well Chris Johnson can run the ball against the Bills' 21st rushing defense. We all know that Johnson has had quite a lackluster performance so far this year, but he is coming off a game in which he rushed for 190 yards.
I will be keeping an eye on how well the Titans can handle the Bills' ninth-ranked rushing attack. If the Bills are able to run well against the Titans, then that will be good news for the Saints.
The Saints currently have the eighth-ranked rushing offense and they will need it when they go to Tennessee next week.
The Titans also have a pretty good passing attack and it will be interesting to see how well the Bills play against them. The Saints and Bills have comparable secondaries. Both are known for giving up yards, but for also playing opportunistic defense.
If the Bills can put up points on the Titans and play well against Johnson, Matt Hasselbeck and the Titans offense, then that will be great news for the Saints.
This game does not have quite as much relevance to the 2011 season.
I will be tuning into this game for future reference. Both of these teams are very young and also very talented. Both the Panthers and the Buccaneers have their franchise quarterback, plenty of weapons on offense and capable defenses.
The Buccaneers have been let down by undisciplined play and a lack of chemistry. The Panthers have been decimated by injuries and are also adjusting to a new coach and his system.
I fully expect both of these teams to be consistent division contenders during the near future. I will be checking this game to see how these two young, division rivals compete against each other. Not to mention a game between these two teams is always good football.
I will be watching this game to see if my thoughts on the Cowboys are correct or not.
There is a chance that the Saints and Cowboys could meet in the playoffs, although I am not sure that the Cowboys could make it to the second round.
As of right now, I believe that the Cowboys will win the NFC East, but lose in the first round of the playoffs. The Cowboys are coming off of four straight victories, but none were against teams that currently have a winning record.
The Cardinals are not a great team to use as a measuring stick, but this seems like a game that the Cowboys would normally find a way to lose.
I will be watching to see if this team could compete with the Saints if they were to meet in the playoffs. It also would not hurt if the Cowboys lose so that the gap between them and the Saints can grow.
This is the game that I will be watching the most throughout Sunday. I am very interested to see if the Falcons can compete with another contender. Throughout the 2011 season, the Falcons have only beaten one team that is considered a playoff contender and that was the Detroit Lions.
The Texans have lost their top two quarterbacks, but are still a very good football team. They have the third-ranked rushing attack and the No. 1 defense in the NFL. The Falcons have the second-ranked rushing defense and it will be important to see how they do against the Texans' Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
Everyone knows that the Saints have an amazing passing offense, but their run game is good as well. It will be important to know how successful teams can be against the Falcons run defense.
We also need to see if the Falcons can win a tough game on the road. If they do make the playoffs, then they will have to win games on the road to reach the Super Bowl.
The Saints will be playing the Falcons in a very important Monday Night Football game later this month and could meet them again in the playoffs. This will be a good game to see what the Falcons are made of and if they have improved since their loss to the Saints earlier in the season.