Anyone who has praised the New Orleans Saints this year would be wrong to not start with the offense. The offense is what wins them the games. What makes the offense go? Pro-bowl quarterback Drew Brees.
This offense averages over 400 yards per game, 272 passing, and 131 rushing. The offense is extremely effective and balanced. They run when they need to, they pass when they need to. Drew Brees is both the leader on the field and off the field. Who’s the big player after Brees, though? Game by game it changes, Marques Colston has over 1000 receiving yards, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Jeremy Shockey, and Reggie Bush all had over 40 catches this year. Meachem and Colston were tied for the team lead in touchdowns with 9. Bush had the worst year of his career yet, but made up for it big time last week with 5 rushes for 84 yards (one being a 46 yard TD) and also a punt return TD. Pierre Thomas is the leading rusher with only 800 yards. On the surface, you’d think the Vikings, having arguably the best RB in the league in Adrian Peterson would have a serious advantage running the ball. Not so fast. The Vikings essentially run the ball with only Peterson and Chester Taylor(Percy Harvin with 135 yards is the 3rd leading rusher). The Saints, however, run the ball with 3 different players. The aforementioned Thomas, also Mike Bell and Reggie Bush. The Vikings top 3 rushers combined for 423 attempts and 1856 yards. The Saints top 3 have rushed 389 times for 1837 yards. If you ask me, I’d say the Saints rush game is something more to pay attention to than the Vikings. Here’s my logic. A wider arsenal of rushers means less carries for each which means late in the game one of them isn’t going to have too many carries that day and is going to be fresh, unlike the defense. Also, 2nd leading tackler, E.J. Henderson, on the Vikes d is out. Rookie Jasper Brinkley out of South Carolina is going to start in place of Henderson.
Drew Brees has over 4388 pass yards and has thrown for 34 touchdowns in 514 attempts. That’s about 8.5 yards per attempt, and a touchdown every 15 attempts. An average of about 30 passes per game, look for Brees to throw 2 touchdowns against the Vikes d.
My x-factor isn’t on the Saints offense though. He’s on the defense. Safety Darren Sharper had 9 picks this year and 3 TD’s. He’s also 3rd on the team in tackles with 71. That being said, the reason he’s the x-factor isn’t his current pro-bowl year, its his years from 1997-2004 with the Packers and current Vikings QB Brett Favre. Just practicing against Favre for those years could prove to be a huge advantage for the Saints defense.
My prediction: 34-21 Saints.
AFC Prediction: 24-14 Colts