The New Orleans Saints are back in the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2009 after a 20-14 comeback victory over defending Super Bowl champions the Philadelphia Eagles. The team will look to get past the Los Angeles Rams and advance to just their second Super Bowl in franchise history.
The team has looked like one of the best teams in the league all year and it would not be too far-fetched to say they have a good chance to walk away with their second Lombardi Trophy in February. New Orleans boasts one of the best offenses in the NFL and has a defense that steps up to the plate when down in key times of the game.
The Saints have not played like you would expect the top seed in their conference to play in recent weeks, but they have seen their team step up when most needed. The offense plays at a high level constantly while the defense makes plays down the stretch.
With that being said, here are three reasons why the New Orleans Saints will Super Bowl 53.
3. Drew Brees’s Clutch Play
The New Orleans Saints trailed the Philadelphia Eagles 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and the first play from scrimmage saw their MVP candidate quarterback Drew Brees throw a long interception. After that first quarter ended, the 39-year-old veteran turned his play up to 11 and completed 26 of his next 32 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns.
Brees has continued to show he is one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the NFL and this will only help the Saints’ cause if they match up with either the New England Patriots or Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Brees plays at a high level on a consistent basis, but it is when he and the team is faced with the most adversity that he steps up to an even higher level, if that is physically possible.
So, what is possibly the worst thing for teams to do when playing Drew Brees and the Saints? Intercept him on the first play, make him fumble twice and go up 14-0. Your team is in trouble when Brees plays from behind.
2. Defensive Surges
The Philadelphia Eagles gained 151 of their 250 yards on the day on their first two drives, which ended in touchdowns each time. After those two drive, the team stalled pretty much any time they took the field.
Their next seven drives ended in punts five times and interceptions for the Saints twice and they only amassed 99 total yards of offense after the opening two drives. While you might say the Eagles collapsed, it was the pressure and adjustment by the New Orleans Saints that made the difference.
The Saints knew they were having trouble getting to Nick Foles, so they changed their scheme in the secondary to fit what they did with the receivers. That adjustment made a big difference and it is that kind of strategy that will make an even bigger difference in the conference championship and Super Bowl.
1. Can’t Guard Mike
I might be opening myself up for criticism here, but there isn’t another cornerback left, aside from possibly Marcus Peters, that will be able to stop Michael Thomas. He cemented his place in New Orleans Saints history Sunday by breaking the franchise record of most receiving yards in a playoff game with 171 yards on 12 receptions.
If the Saints get past the Rams this Sunday, you can bet that Thomas should be able to get open looks in the Super Bowl. Thomas is easily the best receiver of the four teams remaining and he will make a huge difference for the Saints and he should be repeat what he did against the Eagles.
If teams lock down on Thomas, this just opens up even more options for Brees down the field as he has shown that he can make even undrafted nobodies look like superstars. Just ask Keith Kirkwood, who made probably the biggest play of the game with a touchdown grab on fourth and goal from the two.
Thomas should be the difference maker for the Saints and if he lives up to his nickname, New Orleans will be bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to the Crescent City.