New Orleans Saints measured against the NFC’s other top teams


With all due respect to Jim Mora, it is time to start talking about the playoffs.  The Saints currently sit at 7-3, good enough for the third best record in the NFC.

Last week we compared the Saints to the AFC’s elite teams.  Now let’s look at the NFC.

Detroit Lions (7-4)

We’ll find out next week who the better team is, when the Lions visit New Orleans on Sunday night.  For now, the Saints look to have the slight advantage.

The Lions have a potentially explosive offense, but it simply is not consistent enough to be in the Packers-Patriots-Saints category, especially with the loss of running backs Jahvid Best (IR) and Kevin Smith (out indefinitely).

There is no question that the Lions have a lof of talent and offense and can put up a lot of points in a hurry, but in a must-win scenario, give me the Brees-led Saints any day.

Defensively, the Lions are best known for their pass rushers.  Their pass defense has produced 15 interceptions against just 12 touchdowns allowed, but they also have the 25th-ranked run defense.

Detroit has the potential to wreak havoc on opposing teams, but also can give up a lot of points and a lot of penalty yards.  They do have a better D than the Saints.

Overall, the Saints’ experience and a guy named Drew Brees probably make them a slight favorite.

San Franciso 49ers (9-2)

The 49ers obviously have a great defense, and that will give them a chance against anyone.  Until Thursday night, their offense had played pretty well, with a strong running game, solid passing, and limited mistakes.

They are a quality team, but honestly, I would take the Saints on a neutral field.  San Francisco’s offense just doesn’t scare me.

I can see Gregg Williams’ normally leaky defense forcing some turnovers. and Brees and co. making enough plays to pull out a close game or win big.

Hopefully, we’ll find out in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Green Bay Packers (12-0)

The Packers are beatable.  (Right?)  Well, anyway, let’s just pretend they are.  Their offense is one of the best ever.  More importantly, their defense is underrated.

Most analysts have focused on their defense giving up a lot of yards.  They gave up a lot of yard against the Lions in the first half, but those numbers don’t reflect how good they really are.

They put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, have B.J. Raji to stop the run, solid linebackers in A. J. Hawk and Clay Matthews, and some of the best defensive backs in the game — Charles Woodson for example.

They gave up yards, but still looked pretty good against the Lions, and they lead the NFL with 22 interceptions.

The bottom line is they have plenty of play makers and athletes on defense.

These Packers actually remind me a lot of the 2009 Saints–dominant machine-like offense, and big-play, aggressive defense — except the Packers’ defense now seems to be better than the 2009 Saints.

Having said that, they probably won’t go undefeated, and even if they do, it will be difficult to continue their winning streak in the playoffs.

Call me a homer, but I think the Saints are the best-equipped team to beat the Packers.  I just have that much confidence in Payton and Brees.

Unfortunately, if the Saints face the Packers in the playoffs, it will be in Green Bay who takes the win once again.

The Packers are clearly the best in the league, but the Saints are improving, and if they can beat out the 49ers for the second seed in NFC, we could be facing an epic showdown in Green Bay for the Conference Championship.

Or, the Saints could limp into the playoffs at 10-6 and lose in the first round to the 8-8 Giants.