Forecast: Saints put NFC South on lockdown

Forecast: Saints put NFC South on lockdown

Credit: Getty Images

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 30: Running back Darren Sproles #43 of the New Orleans Saints scores on a 13-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 30, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 1 at 10:39 AM

Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer

The New Orleans Saints capped off September by crushing the Miami Dolphins and are three games clear of their biggest rival in the NFC South. How a first month of a season could go any better I have no idea. Perhaps Drew Brees could do magic tricks at half time or Rob Ryan could give hair styling tips? From 0-4 in 2012 with the worst defense in the history of ever to 4-0 with a defense that might be the best we've seen in a over a decade. When they say every year is different they aren't kidding.

The Saints have yet to allow a team to score more than 17 points. They collected four more sacks and four more turnovers and after a month I'm certain if a team falls behind the Saints by two scores their quarterback is going to take a severe beating.

It's as if every move the Saints made to fix the defense in the off season worked to perfection.

Add a very nice corner in Keenan Lewis. Check.

Resign Junior Galette to a cap friendly contract before he becomes a break out pass rushing star. Check.

Draft a play making safety in Kenny Vaccaro to improve the horrible tackling. Done.

Trade up to get a run-stuffing nose tackle so teams can't continue to gash you for five yards a carry.   Hello John Jenkins.

Rob Ryan deserves all the credit you want to give him and feel free to give him a standing ovation at whatever bar you see him at. But don't forget the job Mickey Loomis and the front office did in reshaping the defense which gave up the most yards in NFL history.

The defense will face two really tough road tests in Chicago and New England but I've seen enough to declare the 2013 New Orleans Saints defense plenty good enough to win a Super Bowl. They do just about everything better than I thought was possible and have a defensive end (Cameron Jordan) on pace for 16 sacks.

The 2009 Saints defense was able to gamble with blitzes to create turnovers because the offense was spotting them big leads. The 2013 Saints defense is better through four games in any category you want to use except turnovers and scoring touchdowns and while turnovers and defensive touchdowns are great they are incredibly hard to predict with much certainty. I prefer the defense that is allowing less than 35 percent third down conversions and is on pace for over 40 sacks. 

While the defense is rolling along, the offense cranked out 38 points without anything close to an average running game. All the talking heads and 'old school' football experts will tell us Super Bowls can't be won if you can't run the football. In the 2013 NFL, I'm not sure that's true anymore. Green Bay and the New York Giants won the Super Bowl recently while both ranked in the bottom five in rushing offense. Would a Saints running game like 2011 and 2009 be a good thing? Sure. I'm just not sure it's as critical as everyone will keep telling us as they place the Saints behind the Seahawks and Broncos on the list of best NFL teams.

The protection of Drew Brees was better against the Dolphins despite allowing two sacks. The road is where the true test comes for offensive lines which again is where the Saints will be next. Otherwise, the Saints passing game is as dominant as it ever was. I'd call Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles matchup nightmares but nightmares don't last as long as those two have been terrorizing defenses. At this point, whenever Jimmy Graham scores a touchdown the Superdome should play the clip from the movie 'Rounders' where John Malkovich says to Matt Damon, "Pay the man his money." The only thing more ridiculous than how good Graham is playing will be his 2014 paycheck.

The Saints head to October in firm control of their division, only Seattle seems their equal in the NFC and their defense is ranked in the Top 10. We did not see this coming.

Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at ralphmalbrough@hotmail.com, find him on Facebook, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.
 

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