Record at Stake: Tom Brady's Bid to Surpass Drew Brees Must Go Through New Orleans

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

On October 13, 2013, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady could tie Drew Brees' record of most consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass. Does the Patriots' pass attack have the weapons to accomplish this feat? Interestingly, the Saints themselves have a chance to stop the record from being broken.

It is a chance at history, written in the sand at this point. The record, most consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass, was broken by Drew Brees last season and stands at 54. Tom Brady currently has 48. It would be the 7th game of the regular season before Brady could eclipse Drew Brees for this record.

With many new developments this off-season for the New England Patriots, there is a very brightly lit question mark as to whether Brady can accomplish this. Losses and injuries to his top receivers, and the new balances of several NFL team's defenses are at least two question marks. Their schedule isn't exactly horrendous (Bills, Jets, Buccaneers, Falcons, Bengals, Saints*, and the Jets) on the way to the historic record, but it is filled with hurdles along the way.

The Bengals probably have the best chance at blanking Brady during this stretch. What about the New Orleans Saints? That is also an interesting question mark. Can they decapitate Brady's chances of breaking their captain's record?

The record is, again, historic and goes all the way back to 1942 when Cecil Isbell set the standard at 23 consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass. Johnny Unitas broke the record on December 11, 1960 and held onto it for 52 years before Drew Brees took the mark with his 48th consecutive game on Sunday Night Football against the Chargers with a 40-yard bomb to Devery Henderson. Unitas' record was 47 games. In an affront to Who Dat Nation, Brees' consecutive streak ended against the rival Atlanta Falcons on November 29, 2012 at 54 games and still stands today.

It begs the question: Do the New England Patriots have the roster for this record? One could argue they have certainly lost several percentage points in their effort toward this endeavor by losing WR Wes Welker to theDenver Broncos, TE Rob Gronkowski to back surgery - with no set timeline for a return and durability for the entire 2013 season in doubt - and of course TE Aaron Hernandez who was cut this off-season.

The Patriots lost arguably their best wide receiver and arguably the best TE duo in the NFL in just a few short off-season months. Brady is a fantastic quarterback and Bill Belichick is a fantastic coach but these losses seem nearly insurmountable. They gained a not-so-durable (okay, flimsy) Danny Amendola during free agency. They retained Julian Edelman, who is remarkably now their senior wide receiver, and they have decent option pass catching running backs in Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. The New England Patriots new passing attack doesn't scare the other 31 teams nearly as much as that of 2012.

The other angle of this saga with importance to Who Dat Nation is whether the Saints can keep Tom Brady away from Drew Brees' record. As mentioned previously, Tom Brady can tie the record against the SaintsOctober 13th. He could then break it the following week against the New York Jets. No one in the world of black and gold wants Brady to tie Brees' record much less eclipse it, but imagine the nuclear apocalypse over New Orleans on October 13th if the Saints themselves blank Tom Brady, thereby keeping him from the record. It would be written in the annals of NFL history books for a century to come and most assuredly the next cheesy football movie in theaters next summer. Tom Brady would be seeking anti-depressants and a therapist in the tunnel after the game and wife Gisele would be writing a scathing rebuke to this travesty ala every fashion blog in the world the next day. Most importantly, however, Drew Brees would keep his record intact, albeit sharing it with the late-to-the-party Tom Brady for years to come. No other quarterback currently is even close to this mark.

Is the Saints new defense ready for this, however? They have a new defensive coordinator in Rob Ryan (via the Dallas Cowboys) who is reportedly helping to bring the Swagga back lost last year in their epic fail of a season. New highly touted draft picks and free agents have joined the fold, although one was regrettably lost due to injury in Victor Butler. All of this is really window dressing compared to the switch from a 4-3 defensive scheme to a 3-4 which may suit many veteran Saints players, but is still in the learning stages by nearly everyone. Going from the worst defense in history to attempting to keep Tom Brady from scoring at will in just a few months is a lot to ask. Add to all of this that the game against the Patriots on October 13th won't be in the Dome at home but at New England. This may be a minor detail but still one to consider.

It may or may not turn into a historical drama as the season unfolds. The Patriots could be held scoreless in the first game of the season against the Buffalo Bills or they could score at will all the way to October 13th against the Saints. However it unfolds and the closer it gets to a record for Tom Brady, the more buildup to the Saints vs Patriots we will encounter. This could very well become the game of the season to watch in the NFL, not to mention the following week when Brady could potentially claim the record from Drew Brees.

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