Analyzing Upcoming Opposing Defenses
Right now, the Saints are the No. 2 seed in the NFC. That would set up a matchup versus the Bears or Cardinals.
First, they’ll have to take care of the Panthers. Luckily for them, Carolina is allowing 5.7 yards/play, and is the fifth-worst rush defense in the NFL, so there’s a chance Brees won’t even have to do much against them.
Against the Bears, things could get trickier for the offense. The Bears have a top-ten rush defense and a premier pass rush, which places a lot of pressure on the receivers to create quick separation against a talented secondary. At the same time, they’re also going to be facing Mitch Trubisky, meaning they wouldn’t have to score many points to win.
If it’s the Cardinals, who blitz often, I could see Brees and the offense having a lot of success. Arizona does rank 7th against the pass, but have also faced a relatively easy schedule.
Slot corner Byron Murphy has had his issues at times this season, so New Orleans could leverage a healthy Thomas in the slot, while blitzing Brees rarely works. The Cardinals also rank 27th in yards/rush attempt allowed, so this hypothetical game could actually be one in which they thrive running the ball.
Down the road, the Seahawks and Bucs each have very strong rush defenses. Tampa’s pass rush and secondary depth could poise tremendous problems for New Orleans’ offense, but Seattle has been vulnerable against the pass this season, particularly against receivers and tight ends.
Lastly, the Packers generally don’t care much about stopping the run, but the Saints could still exploit them through the air given their lack of linebacker depth, or cornerback depth outside of Jaire Alexander.
The Bucs, as an all-around defense, are the worst fit for the Saints offense. The Cardinals, meanwhile, shouldn’t pose much of a threat, while Seattle and Green Bay also have specific weaknesses that can be exploited.
Then again, simply facing worse offenses limits the burden for New Orleans, which is why the Bears, Rams, and any NFC East team should be who they hope to face.