NFL Power Rankings 2013: New Orleans Saints Defense, Offense still Top 10

NFL Rankings after Week 13, for the NFC South - Jon Oliver

Despite uncharacteristically poor performances on both sides of the ball in Week 13, the New Orleans Saints offense and defense are still ranked in the Top 10 in the NFL. Will they be able to regain their former glory as the playoffs approach?

Current NFL Rankings: (NFC South)

This Week

Offense

Defense

Passing

Rushing

Saints

6 (↓3)

8 (↓3)

3 (↓1)

23

Falcons

13 (1)

26 (1)

5 (1)

29 (2)

Panthers

24 (2)

2 (1)

27 (3)

9

Buccaneers

31

16 (↓2)

30 (↓2)

22 (↓3)

After a poor showing in Week 13, the New Orleans Saints slipped slightly in three of the four categories.


Saintshelmet_medium New Orleans Saints (9-3):
The New Orleans Saints had quite possibly the worst evening of many of their careers. Although the Saints defense pulled things together in the second half, the offense seemed to have given up by halftime. And after a game in which the ball literally bounced in Seattle's favor repeatedly, resulting in a significant loss in Monday Night Football, even the team's airplane left them stranded in the Northwest until Tuesday.

The level on which New Orleans was completely shut down could either pave the way for future opponents to expose Saints weaknesses, or could indicate that their Week 13 game should largely be written off as a fluke. And any questions regarding which is more accurate should likely be answered this coming weekend, when New Orleans hosts the Carolina Panthers (9-3) on Sunday Night Football, in a game which will have a significant impact on deciding which of the two teams will be division champions this year. Slated to be one of the best games of the weekend, their match against the Panthers has been moved from the early afternoon, and will now be the Sunday night feature.

Carolina is currently on a hot streak, and will undoubtedly present a good challenge for a home team which is trying to shake off a terrible loss. If the Saints do manage to defeat Carolina this weekend, there is a good chance that New Orleans will end the season with the No.2 seed, and home-field advantage deep into the postseason. But their only focus right now needs to be winning this next game.

[Current Panthers Rankings: Offense - 24th; Defense - 2nd; Passing - 27th; Rushing - 9th]

Falconshelmet_medium Atlanta Falcons (3-9):
A week after being eliminated from playoff contention by the New Orleans Saints, in Atlanta, the Falcons managed to win a meaningless game against the Buffalo Bills (4-8). Although every win means little more than a worse draft pick for the team, it doesn't look like Mike Smith is throwing in the towel just yet.

This Sunday, the Falcons head to Green Bay to take on the Packers. However, especially without Aaron Rodgers in the game, the entertainment value of this match -- originally scheduled as the SNF feature -- has plummeted; and it has now been swapped out with the Saints game, and shoved into the obscurity of early Sunday afternoon.

The Green Bay Packers (5-6-1) have not won a single game since Rodgers cracked his collarbone, so their is a chance that Matt Ryan will be able to grab another win. However, with the Packers trying desperately to stay in playoff contention as they away the return of their star quarterback, the Falcons may find themselves flying home with double-digit losses hanging around their collective neck.

[Current Packers Rankings: Offense - 5th; Defense - 24th; Passing - 7th; Rushing - 8th]

Panthershelmet_medium Carolina Panthers (9-3):
Unsurprisingly, the Panthers managed to defeat another poor team, the Buccaneers (3-9), in Carolina this past weekend. Now competing with the New Orleans Saints (9-3) for the division lead, and with a two-day head start on preparations for this Sunday night's game, Cam Newton hopes to grab a win in the Superdome. If the Panthers manage to win this one, they will likely be taken a bit more seriously. If they don't, however, their broken streak will almost certainly lead to plenty more discussions about how the majority of their wins this season have come against poorly performing teams. Do the Panthers have what it takes to contend into the playoffs, or will this weekend be the beginning of the end for this team? Even if they lose to the Saints, Carolina should still be able to grab a wildcard spot in the playoffs. But both NFC South contenders will be fighting hard in what is sure to be a must-see game this Sunday night.

[Current Saints Rankings: Offense - 6th; Defense - 8th; Passing - 3rd; Rushing - 23rd]

Bucshelmet_medium Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9):
After winning three consecutive games, against unimpressive teams, Tampa Bay had their streak broken in Carolina this past weekend. While the Saints and Panthers slug it out for top billing in the postseason, the Bucs are competing with the Falcons and Redskins for the worst record in the NFC. Although there is little for this team to fight for, beyond pride and job security -- for coaches and players alike -- the Bucs will likely give everything they have when the Buffalo Bills (4-8) come to Tampa on Sunday afternoon.

[Current Bills Rankings: Offense - 17th; Defense - 17th; Passing - 29th; Rushing - 4th]


Saints Week 13 Performance:
(Saints 7, Seahawks 34)

Offense
(Time of Possession: NO - 26:22, SEA - 33:38)

One touchdown, 188 yards and 6 first downs would not be considered a terrible performance for the New Orleans Saints, if they had been gained in one half of a game. However, Sean Payton's offense put up lesser numbers in all three of those categories -- over a full four quarters of football in Seattle -- than they have in half the time, on many occasions throughout his reign in the Crescent City. And while the Time of Possession figures were almost exactly the same as they were a week prior in Atlanta, the accomplishments -- or lack thereof -- during that time told a very different story on Monday night.

The one turnover of the game came when Drew Brees was sacked from behind, for a fumble which fell into the hands of Seahawks lineman Michael Bennett, who returned it for a touchdown. Although the cold rainy weather was not as bad as it could have been, and although the Saints insist that the noise was not a major factor, it was clear that Seattle's home-team crowd and weather threw Drew Brees and company off of their game.

Offense

TD’s

FG’s

Yards

1st Downs

3rd Down Conv

Sacked

Fmbl / Lost

Int

First Half

1

0

90

6

3/7 (43%)

1 (3 yds)

1/1

0

Second Half

0

0

98

6

3/8 (38%)

0

0

0

Total

1

0

188

12

6/15 (40%)

1 (3 yds)

1/1

0

Despite another week with no interceptions, and with only one sack for even fewer yards than the previous week, the Saints offense had a very poor performance, overall.

Defense
The New Orleans defense only allowed one more third down conversion, and one more first down overall, than they allowed Atlanta a week prior. However Seattle was able to gash the defense for over three hundred yards in four drives -- resulting in two touchdowns, and two field goals -- in the first half. Part of the Seahawks' success against the Saints came in the form of luck, as the ball literally bounced their way on multiple occasions. That's not to detract from their performance, however, as Seattle outplayed New Orleans on both sides of the ball.

The one defensive highlight of the first half for New Orleans came when Kenny Vaccaro forced a Marshawn Lynch fumble; though unfortunately for the Saints, the ball was recovered by Seattle's Max Unger. Although Rob Ryan's squad was overwhelmed in the first half, however, they seemed to return from the locker room with renewed focus and a better game plan. Not only did New Orleans hold Seattle to just over a hundred yards after the break, but they prevented the Seahawks from scoring on four of five second-half drives.

Defense

TD’s
allowed

FG’s
allowed

Yds
allowed

1st Downs
allowed

3rd Down Conv.
allowed

Sacks

Fumbles
Forced /Rec

Int

Points
Scored

First Half

3

2/2

315

15

6/8 (75%)

0

1/0

0

0

Second Half

1

0

114

8

1/6 (17%)

1 (8 yds)

0

0

0

Total

4

2/2

429

23

7/14 (50%)

1 (8 yds)

1/0

0

0


The New Orleans defense was overwhelmed in the first half, but put on a fairly impressive performance in the second half of the game.

Passing
The Saints completed the exact same number of passes in Seattle as they did in Atlanta, with five more attempts. However, they gained fewer yards with those 23 completions than they tallied in merely the first half of the game (14 completions) a week prior. Although the overall offense performance [outlined above] appears to have been consistent through both halves of the game, the passing game was even worse after halftime.

Drew Brees did manage to complete passes to eight of his ten intended receivers, and threw the ball plenty. But even when his completion percentage was good -- 81% in the first half, as opposed to 45% in the second half -- he and his receiving corps simply weren't getting many yards per attempt. Jimmy Graham had one 20-yard reception in each half, the longest receptions of the game for New Orleans; and his short touchdown pass in the second quarter was the only time the Saints managed to score all game. The star tight end only had two receptions (of three targets) in the first half; and he only caught one of his six targets in the second half. Although he was targeted more than anyone else by Drew Brees, three other receivers were more productive than Jimmy. He simply seemed to give up in the second half.

Darren Sproles had the most receptions for New Orleans,pulling in seven of his eight targets for 32 yards. Marques Colston was targeted seven times, and caught four of them for 27 yards; while Pierre Thomas caught all four of the passes which came his way (21 yards). Lance Moore added 12 yards by catching both of his targets. And Drew had one successful completion each to Robert Meachem (3 targets, 7 yards), Kenny Stills (2 targets, 3 yards), and Jed Collins (1 target, 3 yards). Neither Josh Hill nor Benjamin Watson was able to make anything of one opportunity each.

While Drew Brees is only 287 yards away from becoming the fifth player in NFL history to reach 50,000 passing yards -- and in fewer games than any other quarterback in history -- the offense must step up its game if that accomplishment is to happen in front of the home crowd this weekend.

Passing

Yards

Attempts

Complete

Yds/Att

Int

Sacked

1st Downs

TD’s

First Half

74

16

13 (81%)

4.6

0

1 (3 yds)

3

1

Second Half

73

22

10 (45%)

3.3

0

0

4

0

Total

147

38

23 (61%)

3.9

0

1 (3 yds)

7

1

The Saints put up fewer passing yards in Seattle than they did in the first half of an unremarkable game in Atlanta the previous week.

Rushing
Jed Collins grabbed the majority of the team's first-half rushing yards with his one twelve-yard run.  The other eight yards in the first half came on three attempts by Mark Ingram (2.6 ypc), while Pierre Thomas averaged no gain on his four first-half carries. In the second half, Mark Ingram added 14 yards on 5 carries (2.8 ypc); and Darren Sproles ran the ball three times in the third quarter, for 11 yards (3.7 ypc). Sproles and Thomas were also the two most consistent receivers on the team in Seattle, although none of the running backs really seemed to be able to gain any traction against the Seattle defense.

Rushing

Yards

Attempts

Yds/Carry

Longest Run

Fmbl / Lost

1st Downs

TD’s

First Half

20

8

2.5

12 yds (J. Collins)

0

1

0

Second Half

25

8

3.1

8 yds (M. Ingram)

0

1

0

Total

45

16

2.8

12 yards

0

2

0

As with the passing game, the Saints gained fewer yards on the ground throughout all four quarters than they did in a single half the week prior.

Lagniappe: The Best and the Worst in the NFL

Who currently holds the best and worst ranks in the NFL in each category?


Best
(Current #1 Rank)

Worst
(Current #32 Rank)

Offense

Broncoshelmet_medium
Denver Broncos

Last week: Denver

Jaguarshelmet_medium
Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: Jacksonville

Offense

Defense

Seahawkshelmet_medium
Seattle Seahawks

Last week: Houston (3)

Cowboyshelmet_medium
Dallas Cowboys

Last week: Dallas

Defense

Passing

Broncoshelmet_medium
Denver Broncos

Last week: Denver

Jetshelmet_medium
New York Jets

Last week: 49ers (31)

Passing

Rushing

Redskinshelmet_medium
Washington Redskins (↑1)

Last week: Philadelphia (2)

Jaguarshelmet_medium
Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week: Jacksonville

Rushing

X
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