Jeff Duncan: Saints defense has lifted team to contender status

Jeff Duncan: Saints defense has lifted team to contender status
Marshon Lattimore celebrates his fourth quarter pass breakup against the Jaguars with teammate Demario Davis (Source: Edwin Goode, WVUE-FOX 8)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Another week, another win for the New Orleans Saints. That’s now four straight without Drew Brees. And with each passing week, it becomes more apparent that this could be a special season in New Orleans.

Jeff Duncan: Saints defense has lifted team to contender status

After covering the team for two decades, I watch the Saints with a critical eye. Over the years, I've seen the best and worst that Saints football has to offer. But I can't find many weaknesses with this year's bunch.

Oh, if you want to be picky, their punt returns can be a bit dicey. And the secondary could do a better job of catching those potential interceptions.

But otherwise, this team is about as rock solid as it gets. And it could get downright scary when Brees returns from his thumb injury.

That’s because the defense, long a weak spot, has emerged as a strength. They are playing well in all phases and have stars on all three levels. Marshon Lattimore has returned to his shutdown ways at cornerback, Demario Davis brings the wood and his hardhat at linebacker and Cam Jordan continues to make life miserable for opposing offensive linemen.

The Saints’ 2009 Super Bowl defense might have been more opportunistic but this year’s defense is sounder and more consistent. And it’s already done something the Super Bowl team did not. Before this season the Saints had won just once in the Payton-Brees era when they managed to score 13 or fewer points. They’ve already done it two times this season, twice in the past three games.

With the defense emerging as a dominant force, the Saints have become the most complete team in the NFL and the class of the NFC. The 49ers might have the better record, but the Saints have the better resume – and they get the 49ers in the Superdome in December with Brees back under center.

A lot can happen between now and then. There’s still a lot of football to be played. But the early returns are positive, and this has the makings of a very special Saints season. In fact, it just might be another Super one.

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