After watching six games this season, I feel really good about the defense and special teams. It turns out offense has been less impressive, mostly due to poor play by the offensive line and the wide receivers. If you asked me right now who the Saints match up best with, it would be a poor defensive team. That's because Brees can still light teams up and the Saints have proven they can get key stops against any offense and limit their scoring. If the Saints can get minimum production from the line, then it makes for an easier win. It is kind of ironic that their best game by far (Patriots) was also the team's only loss. But playing like that moving forward will make the team more successful. So I wanted to take a look at what the Saints have coming up and just how good their defenses are. Here I've listed the Saints remaining opponents, where they rank overall, how well they are getting after the quarterback and how many yards per carry they are giving up. I highlited in bold anything that ranks in the NFL's top 10.
Buffalo Bills: 27th defense overall, 4th in the NFL in sacks, give up 3.9 yards per carry (13th best)
New York Jets: 4th defense overall, 5th in the NFL in sacks, give up 3.0 yards per carry (1st)
Dallas Cowboys: 30th defense overall, 11th in the NFL in sacks, give up 4.4 yards per carry (23rd)
San Francisco 49ers: 9th defense overall, 19th in the NFL in sacks, give up 3.8 yards per carry (8th)
Atlanta Falcons: 19th defense overall, 27th in the NFL in sacks, give up 4.2 yards per carry (20th)
Seattle Seahawks: 2nd defense overall, 2nd in the NFL in sacks, give up 3.7 yards per carry (7th)
Carolina Panthers x2: 3rd defense overall, 18th in the NFL in sacks, give up 3.8 yards per carry (8th)
St. Louis Rams: 23rd defense overall, 15th in the NFL in sacks, give up 4.6 yards per carry (26th)
Tampa Bay Bucs: 16th defense overall, 19th in the NFL in sacks, give up 3.8 yards per carry (8th)
So looking at these numbers you arrive at the conclusion that a lot of these defenses are pretty terrifying. It's a tough schedule on the Saints, especially if you consider where they struggle. I consider three of their remaining 10 games against mediocre to poor defenses (Rams, Falcons and Cowboys). That means they have seven games that aren't overwhelmingly favorable matchups for Drew Brees and company. The Bills can be exposed but they do rush the passer well (4th in the NFL). The scariest by far are the Jets and Seahawks, who both get after the passer, stop the run and are rock solid top 5 defenses. The Saints also play the Panthers twice, and while they are less good rushing the passer, they are also a top 5 defense that shuts down the run. I don't really see the Saints' run game getting much better against opponents like these. Tampa is another one that struggles in some areas but does well against the run, and they shut down the Saints' run game last time they both played. And then there's the 49ers, who might be the scariest of the bunch if they play up to their potential.
Be glad the Saints are 5-1 going into the post bye schedule. They're about to face some really good defenses and unless the o-line and the run game gets going, it's going to be hard on the offense to put up a lot of points against some of these teams. And hey, even if they go 5-5 the rest of the way the team will end with a 10-6 record. Hopefully it will be much better than that, but the Saints will have to continue to improve to score on some of these defensive units.