NFL Playoff Predictions: Why Saints Will Win NFC Behind Brees' Strong Play

Zayne GranthamContributor IIIDecember 24, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 18: Drew Brees #9 and Brian De La Puente #60 of the New Orleans Saints calls a play at the line of scrimmage against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter on December 18, 2011 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

In the second half of the season, there has been no team better than the New Orleans Saints, and no quarterback better than Drew Brees.

The Saints are unbeaten in the second half of the season, and four of the six teams they have played are potential playoff contenders. They will play the fifth playoff-caliber team on Monday night when they take on the Atlanta Falcons.

Brees has also been playing football like a mad man. Aaron Rodgers started the 2011 season on fire, and we thought that we had never seen quarterback play like it, but Brees may be setting a new standard in the last half of the 2011 season.

Since Week 9, Brees has thrown for 2,034 yards, 18 touchdowns and one interception. Through those six games, Brees completed 175 out of 240 passes for a 72.9 completion percentage and earned a 121.1 passer rating. Brees still has two more games to play, against subpar passing defenses.

Brees has been the definition of an outstanding quarterback this year, and since the Saints' last loss, he has led New Orleans to an incredible streak. It would be difficult for any team not to win games with this kind of quarterback play.

It helps the Saints even more that Brees is the kind of emotional leader that he is. The New Orleans quarterback fires up the team before games, and makes sure that mistakes do not become a factor throughout the game.

As we all know, Brees is also a student of the game. He is constantly trying to fix his mistakes between each drive. Even last week against the Minnesota Vikings, Brees continued to study the game photos when the Saints were up 42-13 and he had been replaced by Chase Daniel in garbage time.

A quarterback of this caliber is capable of leading any team to the playoffs. However, with a roster like the Saints', Brees has the ability to lead them to a Super Bowl berth. He will do just that in the 2011 postseason.

The most likely playoff scenario for the Saints is that they will get the third seed in the NFC and host a wild-card team in the first round of the playoffs. I do not care what team comes into New Orleans because they will more than likely be demolished. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is already a difficult place to play, but in the playoffs it is nearly impossible to go into the dome and beat the Saints.

In the second round, the Saints would probably end up traveling to San Francisco to play the 49ers. Brees is definitely playing well enough to lead the Saints past Patrick Willis and that great 49ers defense. A victory here would mean that the Saints would be traveling to Green Bay to play the defending world champion Packers, or heading home to play a wild-card or lower-seeded team.

Green Bay is a difficult place to play, especially in the winter, but Brees and the Saints can win there. Brees is good enough to pass the football in the cold weather, and he would be able to pinpoint the weaknesses in Green Bay's 31st-ranked passing defense. Brees would not make bad decisions and give Charles Woodson and the Packers secondary chances for interceptions.

Brees and the Saints could go into Green Bay and win, but if the NFC Championship game ends up being played in New Orleans, then we may as well chalk up another victory for New Orleans.

No matter what ends up happening in the playoffs, if Brees continues the type of play he has shown in the last few months of football, then it will be tough for any team to take down the Saints.

New Orleans has all the talent to win the NFC and make a Super Bowl appearance, and I believe that Drew Brees will lead them to exactly that.