St. Charles Herald-Guide

Saints prove to be road warriors

Mike Detillier - October 11, 2013

One of the things that has gotten lost during the New Orleans Saints 5-0 start to the 2013 season is just how good this football team plays on the road.

During Sean Payton’s run with the Saints, most of the national media has focused upon the fact that the Saints have never won a road playoff game. In fact, the only postseason game they did win on the road was the Super Bowl against the Indianapolis Colts in Miami.

For most Saints fans that game matters the most, but what it masks is the fact that during the regular season the Saints under Payton are the second-best road team in the NFL behind the team they play this Sunday, on the road, the New England Patriots.

Payton and the Saints have posted a 32-18 win/loss mark on the road and when you win over 60 percent of your games away from home that is considered to be amongst the elite. Only Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a better road win/loss mark.

Not only did the Saints defeat the Chicago Bears 26-18 this past Sunday, but the score was really no indication of just how dominant the "W" was for New Orleans.

The Saints defense again is the story. The 18 points given up to the Bears was the most this team has given up to any of the teams they have played in 2013, but the real number to focus on is that through five games the Saints have only given up a total of 73 points.

Please don’t wake me up from this dream.

Last season after the first two games, the Saints had given up 75 points. Now they take on the team that Sean Payton has admitted he tried to emulate when he took over the Saints - the New England Patriots.

The Patriots with Bill Belichick have been the team of the 2000s with unprecedented success that includes Super Bowl wins and appearances. Give Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady full credit for what they have accomplished, but this year they are not the same offensive juggernaut we have all seen in the past.

This is my opinion and I feel strongly about it, but I believe that Tom Brady is the best NFL quarterback I have covered in my 27 years of broadcasting and he has done it, for the most part, without a star-studded lineup around him.

That is part of the problem for the Patriots this season. Gone from their explosive lineup is wide receiver Wes Welker, now catching passes for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is in jail, and halfback Danny Woodhead, now with the San Diego Chargers.

The Patriots are still good and that is because Brady is very talented, but they are not the elite offensive team we have seen in the past. I really think they are a better defensive team than the past three teams the Patriots have put on the field, but they don’t strike fear in opponents anymore with their outside weapons.

The Patriots might soon get offensive weapon Rob Gronkowski back, but the Saints have a better tight end in Jimmy Graham. No one has caught more passes for more yards to start an NFL career than Graham, and that includes Rob Gronkowski.

However, Gronkowski has more touchdowns catches to start an NFL career than any tight end in NFL history.

The stage has been set for another Saints/Patriots match up and it will take place on the road where Payton now matches football wits with Bill Belichick.

Right now, the Saints are the better team and it is shocking, but they are winning with defense. They also have the best pass distributor in the game in Drew Brees and the best coach in the game in Sean Payton.

Blue should get more

carries down the stretch

Alfred Blue, who was coming off of knee surgery he had last year, got quite a few touches in LSU’s 59-26 win over Mississippi State.

The former Hahnville High School standout will not admit it, but he looked tentative and not quite 100 percent early this season. He seems to have gotten stronger and looks more comfortable running the ball now.

Against the Bulldogs, Blue rushed for 61 yards on six carries and had one touchdown run. He also caught two passes for 19 yards.

Blue is focused on being a big contributor down the stretch for the Tigers.

"I feel good and I am just glad to do my part in helping this team win," Blue said. "We got Florida this weekend and we know that they are a really good defensive team and we know we have the weapons to score on anyone we face.

"The guys have just played so well this season and I know when I am called upon I will do my job. Mississippi State has a good defensive team and they are physical, but I felt real strong out there and it was a good offensive show for us."