I love Drew Brees and the Saints as much as the next guy, but I am not going to lie about enjoying every minute of Sunday’s 34-14 victory.
The Payton-less Saints performed admirably but Marino-record-breaker-Brees, could not get the job done.
Though the Saints are at the top of the league for passing yards (thank you Drew) their defense against the rush is ranked 31st, 30th against the pass and their run game is dead last.
To put that in perspective, the Saints allowed 21.2 ppg last season, 19.2 in 2010, and 21.3 in 2009, the year they won the super bowl. In those three seasons, their point differential ranked 1st in the league.
This season, opponents have averaged 31 ppg, causing their point deferential to plummet to 21st. It would be lower, but Brees’ 59.7 completion percentage is carrying the team.
It doesn’t help that they are deprived of Super Bowl XLIII-winning coach, Sean Payton, due to the bounty scandals that rocked the team over the summer.
Anyway, Peyton had another great game, going 22 of 30 for 305 yds and 3 touchdowns. He joins Brett Favre and Steve Young in a select group of quarterbacks aged 36 or older who have thrown for more than 300yds and 3 TDs four times in a season. Righteously, he was named AFC offensive player of the month for October.
Another notable performance came from 5 year linebacker Wesley Woodyard. He had 13 tackles, two pass breakups, once sack, one forced fumble and an interception in the game.
“They are a tough crew to defend against,” John Fox said in the post game press conference. “I thought our guys executed our plan well tonight.”
The only negative aspect of the game came in the fourth quarter when middle linebacker Joe Mays was hit blocking a Trindon Holliday punt-return. Turns out, he fractured his fibula and will be out for the season; yikes.
Keith Brooking will likely play middle linebacker, as he did when Mays was out on suspension for his illegal hit on Matt Schaub in week 3.
Both Mays and Tracy Porter will be missed when facing Andy Dalton and the Bengals.
However, 14-year veteran corner, Champ Bailey is excited about the prospect of facing 2nd year phenom and fellow Bull Dog, AJ Green. Green is the only player in the league who has caught at least one touchdown in each of the last six games.
“I welcome these challenges,” Bailey said in a DenverPost interview when asked about defending him. “This is why I still play.”
The teams are on opposite sides of a swinging pendulum; one going down, the other going up. Cincinnati is currently on a 3-game losing streak, and it looks as though Dalton is experiencing a sophomore slump.
With our back-to-back wins, even the Bengal’s home-field advantage should not hinder the Broncos from adding another “W” to their schedule.
“Their record is misleading,” Manning said to DenverPost reporter Tom Kensler. “Their defense is very physical and is playing solid. They are a (2011) playoff team.”
Thankfully, Manning isn’t one to overlook any detail, so we can count on his being ready for anything come Sunday’s kickoff. 11am people, set your alarms.