Saints defense leading league in crucial stat heading into showdown with Stafford

Tyrann Mathieu, New Orleans Saints
Tyrann Mathieu, New Orleans Saints / Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The defense of the New Orleans Saints have a bit of a test Thursday, but with this stat should ease the mind of Saints fans, and maybe even give them an edge.

The Thursday Night game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams is the biggest game of the season to this point, possibly for both teams, but absolutely for the Saints. Both teams are 7-7, and the Rams currently own the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC.

A lot of the Rams recent success has to do with quarterback Matthew Stafford, a Super Bowl champion let's not forget, is starting to cook, and the fact that his kitchen appears to be open down the stretch is certainly noteworthy.

Meanwhile, the offense of the Saints has been, shall we say, "frustrating" to this point. However the Saints seem to be getting into a bit of a groove, despite the roller coaster that's been quarterback Derek Carr. The Saints are in the position they are, meaning fighting for a playoff spot, thanks to their defense, which at times CAN look elite.

With all this being said, that's what makes this stat for the Saints so big heading into this game.

According to Pro Football Reference, the Saints lead the entire NFL in pass breakups with 87. The next closest are the San Francisco 49ers, a pretty good ballclub, with 75. The gap between the Saints and 49ers is almost identical between the one between the 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, who have the 16th-most with 62.

So basically, the Saints defense is clicking at a good time too. Tyrann Mathieu is the Saints nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which does take into account on-field performance, while elsewhere Paulson Adebo has looked like an all-pro, particularly when it comes to his skill has a pass-defender.

Make no mistake, this stat is big for the New Orleans Saints, and it's all-the-better considering what they have on their plate Thursday Night.