In the Numbers: Remember When

When the Saints play at Tennessee on Sunday, they'll get to remember what playing on sod feels like and have a chance to remember how the elements can affect a game.

That's right, LP Field is outdoors and it'll be the first time since Oct. 16 the Saints have played outside a domed environment.

The weather this weekend in the great state of Tennessee is supposed to be clear...and cool. Temperatures on Saturday around 41 for a high and 25 for a low; Sunday warmer at 48 degrees with a 28-degree low.

The Saints don't necessarily need a win here, but a win coupled with losses by Detroit or Chicago give New Orleans a playoff berth while a win combined with an Atlanta loss hands the Saints the NFC South.

Meanwhile, Tennessee isn't out of the playoff hunt by any means, sitting in a glut of AFC teams at 7-5. Currently a spot out of the playoffs, the Titans could use the win to separate from Cincinnati, Oakland, the Jets and Denver.

This week's cliche: They have to play outdoors, too.

It's All History
New Orleans and Tennessee have played 12 previous times and for the Saints, it hasn't really been pretty.

New Orleans has lost five of the past six regular season games, including the past four. The only time New Orleans has traveled to Nashville, it lost 27-12 in 2003.

That's the other thing this is a relatively sparsely played series. The two teams have played only twice since the beginning of the new millennium.

The Saints did play Tennessee this preseason, losing 32-9, though I wouldn't read too much into that. Nobody of significance played for the Saints in that fourth preseason game.

Payton's offensive juggernaut
Much has been made the past two weeks from local and national media about just how impressive this Saints offense is. Here's a look inside the numbers at just what makes the Saints great this year and since coach Sean Payton took over in 2006.

Total offense: No. 1 since 2006 (36,420 yards); No. 1 in 2011 (5,384 yards)
Net passing yards: No. 1 since 2006 (26, 494 yards) [2,500 yards more than the closest team since 2006]; No. 1 in 2011 (3,904 yards)
Third-down percentage: No. 2 since 2006 (47.5 percent); No. 1 in 2011 (53.2 percent)
First downs: No. 2 since 2006 (2026); No. 1 tied in 2011 (297)
Yards after the catch: No. 1 since 2006 (12,719 yards); No. 2 in 2011 (1,757 yards)
Least sacks allowed: No. 2 since 2006 (119); No. 5 tied 2011 (21).

Indeed, add to that that the Saints running game is now No. 8 in the NFL in rushing yards per game and fourth in rushing yards per play.

Leading the pack:
Team leaders for the Saints heading into Atlanta
Rushing (Total) Mark Ingram: 122 carries, 474 yards, 5 TD
Rushing (YPC) Darren Sproles: 6.8 yards per carry on 63 runs
Receiving (Total) Jimmy Graham: 75 catches for 1,046 yards, 8 TDs
Receiving (Catches) Jimmy Graham: 75 catches for 1,046 yards, 8 TD
Scoring (non-kicker): Jimmy Graham (8 passing TD)

Comparing the Teams (stats/rank)
Offense Yards/Game: Saints (448.7/1); Titans (319.3/22)
Sacks allowed: Saints (21/5t); Titans (17/2)
3rd Down %: Saints (53.2%/1); Titans (38.55/13)
Red Zone %: Saints (56.36%/8; Titans (66.67%/2)
Defense Yards/Game: Saints (378.8/27); Titans (355.3/18)
Sacks recorded: Saints (25/19); Titans (22/26)
3rd Down %: Saints (34.62%/7); Titans (41.62%/24)
Red Zone %: Saints (63.33%/28`); Titans (486.5%/12)

2011 3's Company (third-down analysis)
156 plays overall of which 33 were runs and 123 were passes. They have averaged 7.21 yards per run and 8.27 yards per pass play.
Third-and-short (1-2 yards) - 21 runs, 16 first downs; 15 passes, 8 first downs
Third-and-(3-5) - 9 run, 4 first down; 36 passes, 19 first downs
Third-and-(6-10) - 3 runs, 1 first downs; 47 passes, 24 first downs
Third-and-(11-15) - 0 run, 0 first downs; 15 passes, 11 first downs
Third-and-(16-plus) - 0 runs, 0 first downs; 10 passes, 0 first downs

- Bradley Handwerger,

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