TALE OF THE TAPE

Tale Of The Tape: New Orleans Saints At New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints
New England Patriots
NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 30: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 30, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 6: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots passes against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
(credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Winner While Drew Brees has not been winging the ball around the field like Peyton Manning, he has been dynamic in his own right and he may be the best quarterback in the NFC. Brees throws his passes with precision, buys time with his feet and almost always makes the right decision with the ball. That makes it very hard to slow down the New Orleans offense.
Winner Containing the Patriots offense has been difficult in the past, but the lack of decent receiving weapons has been a major challenge for Tom Brady. His streak of 52 straight games with at least one TD pass came to an end against the Bengals in Week Five. He will try to get a new streak started against the Saints, but the 2013 season has been a struggle for him.
Offense
Winner The Saints are an excellent offensive team because they out-execute nearly everyone they play. They block better, run their passing routes with more precision and they carry out their fakes with more believability. Tight end Jimmy Graham is the best player at his position in the league. Wideout Marques Colston is dependable and running back Pierre Thomas is starting to play better as well.
The Patriots are hoping to get tight end Rob Gronkowski back in the lineup, but they have been disappointed that he has not been able to play in any of the first five games. Running back LeGarrette Blount runs with power, but he fumbled vs. Cincinnati last week. Wideout Danny Amendola is a decent target, but he is frequently hurt.
Defense
Winner The Saints are not a dominant defensive team, but they appear to have matured under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. They are making far fewer mistakes than they did in the past and that allows them to come up with big plays. Defensive end Cameron Jordan has a team-high 4.0 sacks, while unheralded Junior Gallette has 3.0 sacks and is starting to become a force.
Winner The Pats suffered a major blow when defensive tackle Vince Wilfork suffered a torn Achilles that will keep him out the rest of the season. However, the Pats are playing solid overall defense. They will have to be at their best to contend with the Saints and that means cornerback Aqib Talib must be stellar. Linebacker Jerod Mayo has a team-high 49 tackles and is always around the ball.
Special Teams
The Saints have been rather ordinary in their punt and kickoff coverage and that could hurt them against the Pats. Darren Sproles has great quickness, but he has not busted a big return yet. The duo of placekicker Garrett Hartley and punter Thomas Morstead has been solid.
Winner The Patriots have done a solid job with both of their coverage teams this year and Julian Edelman is a decent threat on punt returns. Stephen Gostkowski has demonstrated that he is a solid clutch kicker in the past, and he has made 13-of-14 FG attempts this year. Ryan Allen is a dependable rookie punter.

We'll Just Call it a Tie

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 30: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 30, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 6: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots passes against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Saints have far more firepower than the Patriots, but New England should be primed for an excellent effort since it is at home and coming off its first defeat of the year. The Pats defense will need to make several key stops against Drew Brees if they are going to come away with the victory.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. Frank Kaminsky #44 of the Wisconsin Badgers (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    NCAA Championship Tale: #1 Wisconsin Badgers Vs. #1 Duke Blue Devils

    Two No. 1 seeds battle for the national title. Here is a look at the matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers and Duke Blue Devils.

  2. Andrew Harrison #5 of the Kentucky Wildcats (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons, Getty Images) Sam Dekker #15 of the Wisconsin Badgers (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images)
    Final Four Tale: #1 Wisconsin Vs. #1 Kentucky

    The Final Four features very few surprises this season, with three number one seeds making it into the final weekend of the 2015 NCAA College Basketball Tournament.

  3. Jahlil Okafor #15 and Justise Winslow #12 of the Duke Blue Devils (Photo Credit: Bob Leverone, Getty Images) Branden Dawson #22 of the Michigan State Spartans (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images)
    Final Four Tale: #1 Duke Vs. #7 Michigan State

    In 1999, Tom Izzo took the Michigan State Spartans to the Final Four for the first time on his watch, and they met Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils.

See All Tales of the Tape