For the first time in franchise history, five offensive players were invited to the annual all-star game, including first-time selections tight end Jimmy Graham and offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod. They joined quarterback Drew Brees and guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, thanks to a combination of votes by fans, players and coaches. Graham, Evans and Nicks are starters. No defensive players or special teamers made the team, though alternates have not yet been announced.
With 5,087 yards passing this season after Monday night’s victory over Atlanta, Brees enters the final week of the season 190 yards ahead of New England’s Tom Brady. Yet the Saints’ regular-season finale may not matter in terms of playoff seeding, meaning the prudent choice for Payton could be to rest Brees for much of Sunday’s game against Carolina.
Even though the Lions are headed to the playoffs, they don’t want the sixth seed … and neither does Atlanta. The reason: You have to go to New Orleans, where the Saints don’t lose. Draw the sixth seed, and say goodnight. New Orleans doesn’t just beat opponents at home; it clobbers them, with Monday’s rout of Atlanta the latest example. The Saints are built for the Superdome and excel there, with the Saints four times putting 40 or more points on oppnents and once sticking 62 on Indianapolis.
So what will the coach do in Week 17 vs. Carolina, with Patriots QB Tom Brady 190 yards behind Brees and the Saints all but guaranteed the No.2 seed in the NFC? New Orleans can only improve its seed if the 49ers (12-3) lose to the Rams (2-13). They cannot fall with a loss. The Patriots will need to beat Buffalo to claim the AFC’s No. 1 seed, which would likely require Brady to stay in the game. The Pats and Saints will play at the same time, meaning Payton won’t have the benefit of knowing what Brady did.
Sharper doesn’t rip Favre by any means, but he also makes it clear Favre’s high risk/high reward ballet didn’t always inspire confidence from teammates. Favre never had a season that matches what Brees is doing this year, but it’s fair to wonder what a 28-year-old Favre could’ve done in today’s pass-happy NFL.