We're past the Wild Card Round, and after great showings by four great teams, we can definitely say that the New Orleans Saints put on a show against the Detroit Lions. Putting up 45 points, Drew Brees marched the Lions out of the Bayou with an unstoppable showing.
In this article, I hope to prove to you that the Saints—with an amazing offense and an acceptable defense—are the primary candidates to win the Super Bowl.
While you already might know, this year Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's single-season passing yards record. Currently, the record stands at 5,476 at the conclusion of the Saints game against Carolina.
However, what you might not know is that Brees broke two other records this season. He broke Peyton Manning's total completions in a season with 468, where Manning's was 450 in 2010. The other record, completion percentage for a season, he broke with 71.6 percent.
The previous record, 70.6 percent, he set himself in 2009. If you remember, 2009 was also the season that Brees and the Saints won their first Super Bowl.
Brees also hit a career high with 46 touchdowns this season, and had his second-highest QB rating with 110.6
If history repeats itself, then surely Brees has shown that he can ride his own hot hand throughout the playoffs.
Currently ranked sixth overall in yards per game, the Saints' running committee is the best of its kind in the game. Led by Pierre Thomas and rookie Mark Ingram and supported by Chris Ivory and Darren Sproles, the Saints' run game amassed 2,127 total rushing yards on the season together.
The most dangerous part of the Saints' run game is twofold: any back on the field can be called up to run or called on to catch. Adding that versatility is what makes a truly devastating run game deadly in terms of how their performance can affect a game.
Darren Sproles, the Saints' most explosive running back, has 603 yards on the season for an amazing 6.9 average (87 carries on the year). While this seems low, he also has 710 yards receiving and seven touchdowns.
Added together, he has 1,313 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns.
The Saints' running offense, complemented by their receiving talents, is still highly ranked in the league. When Brees' arm is not working (imagine?), they can always result to the Marching Saints run committee to get the job done on the ground.
Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Darren Sproles, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson.
All of them are Saints players who caught passes this year. Do you know what they have in common? All of them have at least 500 yards receiving. Together, they combine for over 4,913 receiving yards.
The Saints are a team that is complete on all aspects of the ball offensively. I talked about the running committee last slide, but what is really amazing is how much depth they have at the receiving position. No wide receiver is truly the No. 1 option in the Saints offense, but none of the starters are untalented.
Similar teams, like the New England Patriots, also have many receiving talents. The Patriots have four receivers over 500 yards, and the Packers have four as well. The Saints have six. No team in the league has the depth and the tenacity to keep up with every single one of the Saints wide receivers, especially considering how I detailed in the last slide how deadly the backfield is at catching passes as well.
Although I concede that Sproles is a traditional running back, I included him in the count of six because 710 receiving yards is not only unusual for a RB, but he also has more receiving yards than rushing yards.
In their last two regular season games, the Saints have outscored opponents 90-33. After a Week 11 bye, they have won all six of their games and broken several team and player records to boot.
No team in the entire NFL besides the New England Patriots have won all five of their last five contests.
The Saints also are stellar at home, boasting a 8-1 record. This helped them get past the defiant Lions in the first round. While they were also beaten at home last year, this year's Saints squad is much better and more complete than last year with the higher level of play being brought by both Drew Brees and offseason acquisition Darren Sproles.
Their conference and division records are also stellar, sitting at 10-2 and 5-1, respectively. To put that in a better perspective, their record against current playoff teams is 5-1—they only lost coming in Week 1 to Green Bay.
With Detroit already gone, their streak keeps rolling. They also put up another 40-plus game against the Lions.
There is no team left in the playoffs that can stop the Saints. Any offense-heavy team left, the Patriots and the Packers specifically, would get dominated by the Saints defense. Out of the three heavy offense giants, the Saints boast the best offense and defense.
The Packers and the Patriots are the two worst defensive teams in the league and have barely any run game, while the Saints are merely average on defense and have one of the best run games in the playoffs.
Besides them, the teams that could prove trouble are the 49ers and the Ravens. Both teams boast the best defenses left in the playoffs. If either team successfully could stop the Saints offense, it would be a lot of trouble for the Saints to stop them on defense.
However, there is no team in the NFL that can fully stop the locomotive that is the Saints offense, and both the Niners and the Ravens have terrible offenses centered around the run. Blitzing often and forcing Alex Smith and Joe Flacco to make mistakes would be the keys of the game.
The only way the Saints would lose is by pure morale—both the Broncos and the Giants are massive underdogs and the combined energy of making it to the Super Bowl or the NFC Championship game could lift them over to top.
But they can't soar any higher than the best team in the NFL.
If you have any arguments, questions or comments, you can leave them below and I will respond to them promptly.
Thank you again for reading.