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Defense dominates as New Orleans Saints run winning streak to 10 games

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Whatever game it is that an opponent wants to play, the New Orleans Saints (10-1) can beat them at it.

The 31-17 victory over Atlanta on Thursday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was the result of an offense that took advantage of its opportunities, and a defense that slammed the door on Atlanta's fingers every time the Falcons tried to force their way into the game.

New Orleans has won 10 straight games, the second-longest winning streak in franchise history, and it's hard to imagine that there's a scenario or an opponent that the Saints don't believe they can conquer. There's good reason for that:

OFFENSE: It's not often that a team scores 31 points and that's considered an "off" night, or the quarterback throws four touchdowns and completes 68 percent of his passes and it's considered below the norm. That tells you how potent the Saints' offense has been. Drew Brees didn't have a phenomenal night – he threw an interception and finished with 171 passing yards – but he was efficient enough to get the job done, with the four touchdown passes. The running game (150 yards on 31 carries) continues to click and the Saints converted five of 11 third-down attempts. New Orleans didn't need to pile up the yardage (312 total yards), but we already know that it can when it has to. For the second straight game, an opponent worked overtime to try to take away receiver Michael Thomas, and for the second straight game, it was made to pay. Building up the confidence of the other receivers only will be a plus going forward.

DEFENSE: It was an overwhelming performance by the Saints, regardless of who's judging. New Orleans forced four turnovers (three fumble recoveries and an interception), sacked Matt Ryan six times, produced 13 quarterback hits, had nine tackles for loss and seven passes defensed. Defensive end Cam Jordan was monstrous (two sacks, three quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, four tackles) but he merely was the leader, instead of a one-man band. Linebacker Alex Anzalone (a forced fumble, a pass defensed and six tackles) and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (a sack, two quarterback hits and two tackles for loss) are playing the best football of their young careers. And the P.J. Williams who was on display Sunday night (a sack, a quarterback hit, a forced fumble, a pass defensed and six tackles) doesn't even resemble the player who made his first start of the season against the Falcons, on the road in Week 3. The defense simply keeps getting better and better.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Wil Lutz is working too hard covering kicks. For the third straight game, he made a tackle on a kickoff and even though the defense made sure that nothing developed from that 41-yard return, it still is a source of concern that opponents have been able to produce a good one in the last three games. Otherwise, again, a quiet day is a good day. Lutz kicked a 22-yard field goal, his 20th consecutive make of the season, Thomas Morstead averaged 48 yards on three punts and the kickoff team with Taysom Hill had a 32-yard return.

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