The Saints have admitted this week that they're trying their best to emulate the New England Patriots, the team they're playing this week at the Superdome on Monday Night Football.
So far, they've done a nice job imitating the 2007 version, which set all kinds of records offensively in a 16-0 regular season.
Right now, the Saints are the most explosive team in the NFL at 10-0, and while the Colts share the same record, it's become obvious New Orleans has taken the title as the most dangerous offense in the league -- a tagline once used by those very same Colts and, at least in 2007, the Patriots.
"They are good at everything," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "They don't make many mistakes. They cause a lot of problems. They're very explosive. They can put up a lot of points in a hurry and they have. It's hard to give them any more compliments than that.
"They kind of look, in some ways, a little bit like the Rams did back in 2001 with a player like (Reggie) Bush similar to (Marshall) Faulk -- a guy who could come out of the backfield, and split out and be a receiver, but line up in the backfield and be a running back. Players like that are just rare -- very hard to match up with -- and give an offense a dimension that you just don't see during the course of the year."
Oddly enough, the comparisons to the '01 Rams might be somewhat outdated given how prolific the Saints have been through 10 weeks. This is a team that could break the scoring record set by the '07 Patriots and realistically challenge them in a bid to become just the second team in league history to finish 16-0.
"I've talked about the Rams and I've talked about the Chargers in the early '80s, but these guys can run with anybody," Belichick said.
"What's more important to us right now is this game, and our season, and how we do in 2009 and how we do this week against the Saints. It's a big game and we know it's against as good a team as there is in the National Football League this year. They're certainly going to be in it all the way through and they should be; they are outstanding, so it will be a great test for us to kind of see where we're at against as good a team as there is in football."
|Reggie Bush drawing comparisons to Marshall Faulk|
The way Belichick sees it, this game is a measuring stick and perhaps a chance for the Patriots to pick up the signature road win that's evaded them all season. This would be a way to silence some of the doubters and firmly establish them as one of the top five teams in the NFL.
There's no doubt the Patriots can compete, but they've yet to get over the hump in a hostile environment. In fact, they let late leads slip away in Denver and Indianapolis, so it'll be interesting to see how they handle it Monday if they're on top late in the game.
The bottom line is for all the talk about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, there's no question the Saints admire what the Patriots have done through the years and they've managed to duplicate some of that success this season. Whether they can surpass the standard set by the '07 Patriots will be determined Monday night.
"You've just got to be sound, be solid across the board, and hope you can hold up and they make it tough on you," Belichick said. "To me, it's easy to see why they haven't lost; they are very good at everything."
--The Patriots are no stranger to playing at the Superdome. In addition to three regular-season games against the Saints -- all victories -- they've also played in three Super Bowls in New Orleans. After losing to the Bears in Super Bowl XX and the Packers in Super Bowl XXXI, they finally won their first title with a 20-17 win over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
-- This will be the Patriots' 39th game on Monday Night Football.
They are 17-21 all-time on Monday night, which includes six consecutive victories dating back to 2005 when they beat the Jets at the Meadowlands.
That record also includes a 9-13 record on the road, in addition to this year's season-opening victory against the Bills on Monday night at Gillette Stadium.
--While the team hasn't had much success on Monday nights, quarterback Tom Brady has been sensational. Brady is 8-3 lifetime on Monday Night Football with his best statistical performance coming in this year's season-opener at home against Buffalo when he completed 39 of 53 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns.
--Since a 27-17 loss at Carolina in 2005, the Patriots have not lost to an NFC team in regular-season play, a streak that covers 17 consecutive games. They're 2-0 against the NFC South this season with wins over Atlanta and Tampa Bay. They play Carolina on Dec. 13.
--Leigh Bodden's 53-yard interception return for a touchdown last week was the longest defensive touchdown for the Patriots since linebacker Adalius Thomas scored on a 65-yard interception return against San Diego in 2007.
Bodden's touchdown was also the first on an interception since Eugene Wilson returned an interception 5 yards for a touchdown against the Jets in 2007.
--Brady threw his 20th touchdown of the season against the Jets, mark the seventh time in 10 seasons he's reached that total. He is also one of 27 quarterbacks in NFL history to throw 200 or more touchdown passes.
Brady needs only 163 yards to pass Drew Bledsoe and move into first place on the team's all-time passing yardage list.
--The Patriots are facing a tough task against the undefeated Saints this weekend. This is their second game against an undefeated team in three weeks, dating back to their loss to the Colts at the RCA Dome.
The last time a team played two undefeated opponents that were 8-0 or better at the time was when Kansas City and San Diego each faced Denver twice in 1998.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- The number of consecutive games in which Laurence Maroney has scored a rushing touchdown, putting him two shy of Curtis Martin's team record.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It wouldn't surprise me if the Saints set whatever records there are, because I can't think of too many teams -- I can't think of any, really -- that are any more explosive than this team is." -- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on New Orleans' offense.
SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Patriots lead series 8-3. The Patriots have won each of the last three games against the Saints dating back to 1998. Prior to that, the Saints won three in a row between 1989 and 1995. Interestingly enough, the Patriots have won all three regular-season games between the two teams played at the Superdome.
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