So what, exactly, is the problem? Offensively, the Saints run the ball more effectively in the second half, but that is mostly by design. And they take more sacks in the first half (10 vs. 3), but that follows the pass-early/run-late mold.
If we're going to point a finger, let's make it two. On offense
This week, a slow start could be particularly devastating against a Patriots team that has outscored opponents 62-10 in the first frames of its past six contests and that leads the league in both first-quarter (71) and second-quarter points (125).
In particular, the Saints have had trouble locking down top-flight receivers, a category that both
The Saints matchup with Moss this week is especially disconcerting given the history of cornerback
Every week, I lend my thoughts on a few particularly startable or sit-worthy players. Here's who's I like in this Week 11 matchup:
It comes down to this: The Saints were a better team eight weeks ago than they are now. Part of that is injuries; part of it is game-planning since opposing coaches have something to go off every week. And the Patriots have followed the exact opposite trajectory. With rare exception, I've been more impressed every week, as if this team is slowly working its way back to its record form of 2007. And that's saying a lot. There's no shame in losing to Indy by one point, especially given the way it happened (I stand by Belichick who, I think, made the right call), but Sean Payton should be scared about his team's recent efforts, particularly a squeaker two weeks ago against St. Louis. When Belichick said recently, I don't think there's any better team in football than the New Orleans Saints, he was speaking of the past. By day's end, I believe the return to '07 form will be complete, and