Have the New Orleans Saints Turned a Corner?
by Frank Martin
On Wednesday, Ahmad Brooks got hit hard… in the wallet. But, lost in the talk of whether or not the ‘game of football’ was wronged by Ahmad Brooks’ personal foul penalty on Drew Brees… is the fact New Orleans shouldn’t have even been in the position of driving for a game tying FG.
Turnovers are Very Unkind to the Saints
Last Sunday, New Orleans turned the ball over three times, and failed to convert a 4th down… gifting 4 possessions to San Francisco. (Opportunities that led to 17 Niner points). Over the last few years, when teams do that against the Niners, they usually end up losing. The Saints won by three points. Historically, New Orleans doesn’t win games when they lose the turnover battle.
In their only two losses this season (against the Pats and the Jets) you guessed it… the Saints lost the turnover battle. Want another example? Last year’s loss to the 49ers. San Francisco turned two Brees interceptions into touchdowns and left the Superdome with a 31-21 victory.
If you are starting to pick up on my point… Sunday’s victory was really… really… special for New Orleans. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know why.
There’s a D in the Superdome Again!
New Orleans’ defense kept the team in the game limiting the Niners to 196 yards of total offense and 12 first downs. Those are the type of numbers the Saints gave up by half time a season ago…
Other than a 16 yard scramble by Kaepernick on their last play, San Francisco ran the ball one time in the 4th quarter. One. Time. Maybe these numbers have something to do with it… 1, 1, 0, 0, -6… Those are the results of San Francisco’s last 5 rushing attempts.
The New Orleans defense is the story of the Saints 2013 season. The unit is ranked 4th in total yards, third in passing yards allowed and 5th in scoring defense. When you couple that with the fact, Drew Brees and the offense rank second in in the league in scoring and total yards, it’s scary to think how little New Orleans relies on their “other half.” Sure, the call on Brooks was tough to swallow. But how many fumbles would New Orleans’ defense generated if they played outside the rules? As much as the 49ers and their fans don’t want to admit it, San Francisco lost to the better team Sunday. That should scare the rest of the NFC.
How Far Will The Saints Go?
How far New Orleans goes this season will depend on how the defense finishes up against the likes of Carolina and Seattle. Cam Newton and Russell Wilson are elite signal callers whose defenses are better than most. Two of those games are will be on the road. Where most people believe the Saints can’t win.
Likely the Saints will be the no. 2 seed, which means, at some point, they will have to win a playoff game on the road. A place most people think they can’t win. They say that, because New Orleans has NEVER won on the road in the post season. They’re 0-3 on the road in the playoffs in the Payton-Brees era. Then again, those teams never had a defense like this one.