Dan Patrick of NBC's "Sunday Night Football" spoke with New Orleans Saints senior writer John DeShazier on Thursday's edition of the Black and Blue Report (interview starts at the 8:50 mark). Patrick previewed the Sunday night showdown between Saints and Cowboys. Below are some highlights from the interview.
On the Saints-Cowboys game:
"Saints-Cowboys is going to be a big audience. You have 'America's Team' and the Saints always do well, especially at home. I thought the Jets would beat them last week. The Saints are just different on the road and with the Jets coming off being blown out. Now you have the Saints coming off a loss going home and I expect them to beat the Cowboys.
"The Cowboys are enigmatic. You're not quite sure what you're going to get. I don't know if they know how good they are. I think the Saints realize a little bit of defense is going to go a long way with that offense. I expect them to be one of the two or three best teams in the NFC by the end of the year. Dallas I am not quite sure. They always feel like an 8-8 team, where the Saints strike me is as a 10-6 or an 11-5 team. That's the big difference to me. Plus, with the Saints at home on that carpet – they're just a different team."
On the Saints this season:
"Having a defense there…even if you just have an above average defense, with all these offenses that are great, you have a chance to do something that is really special. We have always bought into the Saints offense now we have a little bit of a defense there, maybe more than we thought. That to me has been the difference maker here.
"I think there's that symbiotic relationship between Sean and Drew, and then you have all of those weapons. If Sproles, Graham and Colston are healthy…if I start with that I have a pretty good chance to put at least 28 points on ya. They never bought into the running game. That's the surprising part of it. I still think that's a facet that is underrated in football now. Aside form Adrian Peterson; nobody buys into the running game. I think at some point in the season and in the playoffs you are going to have to be able to run the football a little bit. I would like to see that with the Saints.
"I love Sproles. He is one of my favorite players. We had Jimmy Graham on our show a couple weeks ago, can't wait to have him on again. I thought Drew Brees was a Peyton Manning-type quarterback the way he ran Joe Tiller's offense at Purdue. Am I surprised he turned out this good? Yes I am. Fun offense but that defense is what I think will be the difference maker. If they're going to be a Super Bowl team, it won't be because of the offense it will be because they finally have a little defense."