A "Battle of Trios"

The New Orleans Saints at the San Francisco 49ers. Until this year, this would have been a division game, because the two faced each other twice a season since 1970 in the old NFC Western Division (the 49ers lead the series 45-18-2). Now the Saints are in the NFC South and the Niners in the NFC West. And both either lead (San Francisco, 4-1) or tie (New Orleans, 5-1 with Tampa Bay) for the lead in their division.

The game will feature a "Battle of Trios." 

The Saints trot out quarterback Brooks, running back DEUCE MC ALLISTER and wide receiver JOE HORN.  The 49ers counter with QB JEFF GARCIA, RB GARRISON HEARST (who rotates every other series with KEVAN BARLOW) and WR TERRELL OWENS

McAllister leads the NFC in rushing (582 yards) and Horn is third in receiving yards (500).  Brooks, first in the conference in TD percentage (6.6) comes off a three-TD Sunday in a 43-27 win over Washington. 

The Saints are off to their best start since 1993, and against the Redskins, registered their most points since 1987.  And their defense!  Playing in a deep zone, they had four interceptions, seven sacks, plus two dropped would-be interceptions and two called back due to penalties.

The Saints' defensive weakness, according to defensive tackle NORMAN HAND?  Screen passes.  Washington's KENNY WATSON scored on a 62-yard run off a screen, and rookie LADELL BETTS took off on a 40-yard scramble after catching a screen.  "We've got to stop those screens," says Hand.  "We've got to have everybody to the football.  Two weeks in a row, we haven't stopped the screen pass.  So I'm sure we'll be running into the screen this week against San Francisco."

They'll also be running into "T.O," wide receiver TERRELL OWENS, whose two touchdown catches – one the game-winner -- Monday night against Seattle put him only three TDs (63 in seven seasons) behind ROGER CRAIG (66 in eight seasons) in second place on the 49ers' all-time list.  In first, of course, is JERRY RICE (187 in 16).  "Terrell's a beast," says RB Barlow. 

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