Let's start with the offense. In terms of points scored per average drive the Saints are 22nd at 1.71 points per drive. Top offenses typically are in the 2.5 range in this stat, bottom-feeders around 1.0. I like this stat because it eliminates some of the variables if you just look at average yards per game. For example, a running team might eat up more clock and thus have fewer possessions than a more wide-open passing attack that either scores quickly or goes 3 and out. Saints are subpar in this statistic, which is not at all surprising, given the lackluster numbers the offense has put up on the scoreboard this year. Saints are 19th in points per game at 21.4.
So, is it the rushing game that's bad or is it the passing game or maybe a little bit of both? If you look at the overrated (IMO) total yards stat the Saints are a respectable 12th, and that's with one team ahead of them having played 13 games instead of the 12 the Saints have played. Let's look at my favorite passing game stat: ANYA (adjusted net yards per attempt). This stat takes into account TD's and INT's in addition to treating sacks as attempts. You get a bonus for each TD and a penalty for each INT. Saints are tied with Seattle for 18th at 5.9 ANYA. So, it's basically middle of the pack, which is what you would expect from Carr, a middle of the pack kind of quarterback.
Let's look at the rushing game stats. Yards per attempt is a dismal 3.7, bad enough for a tie with Houston for 29th out of 32. League average is 4.2, which where it's typically at year to year. Missing Kamara the first few games didn't help things, but his numbers have also not been good. AK is at 3.8, Jamaal Williams an awful 2.8. If not for Taysom Hill's 4.9 average on 70 carries these overall numbers would be even worse than 29th. The strange part is when Hill is taking the snap the other team *knows* exactly what's coming, but Hill also gets the benefit of potentially an extra blocker since there's not a quarterback giving him the ball and then no longer playing a role in the play. Kamara and Williams are absolutely capable players. I don't put the blame on them. They're just not getting the blocking they need, and yet Hill runs behind the same blocking...
Defense. Dee Fense! Dee Fense! Ever wonder why fans at basketball games never chant, "Off Fense! Off Fense!"? I do. Maybe they figure they don't need to inspire the players to try to score points, but a little friendly reminder to give a little effort on defense is always good. Anyways, in total yards allowed the Saints are 15th, so middle of the pack. It's a middle of the pack team, but lucky to be in a terrible division with a decent shot at winning it, or at least the Southpark version of not losing it.
Versus the pass the Saints have really been stellar. The ANYA defensive numbers are very impressive, at 5.1 allowed it's good enough for 6th best. Keep in mind, INT's play a big role in this number, and the Saints have managed to get a lock of picks this year. They've allowed 16 TD's while getting 14 INT's. In the modern NFL those are fantastic defensive numbers. Usually, you would say, aha!, they must be really getting after the quarterbacks, putting them under a lot of pressure, that's not the case. The Saints pass rush has been anemic. 19 sacks is tied for the 2nd worst. You're tied for 31 out of 32. You might say, yeah, but sacks don't tell the whole story. It's pressures that really matter. Fine, pressure percentage (19%) is 5th worst in the league. Granderson, at 5.5 sacks, and DeMario Davis at 4.0, by themselves account for about half the team total. Where's Cam?
If your passing stat defensive numbers are good and you're not getting a lot of pressures, then it must be the secondary, and they have been excellent. Adebo and Mathieu in particular have racked up 7 INT's between them. If your name is Adebo and the other guy is named Lattimore, then you're getting a lot of passes thrown your way. It's the Deion Sanders effect. Mathieu has certainly "lost a step" along the way in his career, but give him credit, when he gets the chance to make a play on the ball he usually makes it.
Rushing defense now. Allowing 4.5 a pop puts you way down the list at #27. Not good. There have been a number of games, including the last one, where the defense couldn't stop the team running out the clock. When you know the run's coming and you still can't stop it, that's a bad sign.
To summarize, Saints are a middle of the road team with average passing game, below average running game, good passing defense despite not getting much pressure up front, and a bad run defense that's particularly vulnerable to running quarterbacks and to 4 minute offenses when down by 1 score at the end of games.