Nov 10, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Through three weeks, we’ve yet to see that all-out dominance that the New Orleans Saints displayed quite often in the past. However, things could change on Sunday when the team faces a still porous, but slightly improved defense and an offense prone to turnovers in the Dallas Cowboys.
On paper, I still believe the Black and Gold are looking at one of the best rosters in franchise history. It’s been a slow start for Sean Payton and company this season, but between the talented players and excellent coaching staff, the Saints are a ticking time bomb ready to explode all over Jerry Jones‘ boys.
Looking at last year’s 49-17 blowout win over Dallas, they’re obviously capable of dominating Sunday night’s primetime matchup from start to finish. However, as Sean Payton mentioned during Thursday’s press conference following practice, both New Orleans and the Cowboys are different teams then they were in 2013.
It will be a tough contest on the road, but if the Saints want a shot at home-field advantage in the playoffs or even a shot at the postseason, they must reign supreme and return to the Big Easy with a 2-2 record.
I think the team knows that this is a must win and will come firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. New Orleans has won its last three contests against the Cowboys and is 8-0 under Sean Payton in Sunday night games — I don’t see history changing just yet.
Between Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Kenny Stills an excellent running game and the addition of rookie WR Brandin Cooks, the Saints have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL right now.
Defensively, the team got off to a slow start, but bounced back last week and held the Minnesota Vikings to only nine points and 247 total yards. Rob Ryan‘s unit showed signs of life, so maybe that’s just what they needed to kickstart a defense that ranked No. 4 overall in the league a year ago.
I mean let’s be real here — pass rushing connoisseurs Cam Jordan and Junior Galette? Shutdown specialist Keenan Lewis? The aggressive and versatile Kenny Vaccaro? The newly acquired ball hawk in Jairus Byrd? Tackling machines Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne (if healthy)? The list goes on, so there’s no reason why the Saints can’t explode light up “America’s Team.”
Offensively, if New Orleans can establish the run early on the Cowboys, who are allowing 110 yards on the ground per game, pressure will be relieved from Drew Brees. That will open up the opportunity to make big plays through the air against a team that allowed 250.3 passing yards per game against quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick, Jake Locker and Austin Davis in weeks 1-3.
Davis is the backup turned starter for the St. Louis Rams with Sam Bradford out for the year. Dallas allowed him 327 yards and three touchdowns last week, so just imagine what Brees and company can do if they come out playing their best football.
On the defensive side of the ball for the Black and Gold, there sits only one takeaway through the first three games. That can easily change on Sunday if Jordan, Galette and the rest of the front seven bring the heat and force Tony Romo to make throwing errors, which the pass-happy quarterback does quite often.
Of course, WR Dez Bryant will need to be contained, but Keenan Lewis is certainly a cornerback who can hold his ground. RB DeMarco Murray leads the NFL in rushing at the moment, but also leads running backs with three fumbles (two lost), so maybe New Orleans can force him to cough up another one.
This is an intriguing matchup, but if the Saints’ offense and defense can get clicking early, that ticking time bomb could blow up in the Cowboys’ faces if they’re not careful at defusing the situation. It will be interesting to see if Sean Payton and the crew can expose Dallas’ weak spots and dominate like they have in the past. This is a must win, Who Dat Nation.