Cincinnati – Don't lie.
You didn't see that coming. No one could have.
It's quite all right though, to enjoy every morsel of a 51-14 road victory by the Saints (8-1), now winners of eight straight and unquestionably the hottest team in the NFL. New Orleans posted a beatdown inside Paul Brown Stadium, its most complete victory of the season, while extending its NFC South Division lead to two games and keeping its eye on the No. 1 playoff seed.
The win was flawless in a lot of ways, and several players gave that kind of performance.
OFFENSE: If you're looking for a weakness for Drew Brees, try Kryptonite. Or, maybe, his daughter's smile. Other than that, he's a cold-blooded surgeon who can undress a defense and leave it in the fetal position. Against the Bengals, Brees completed 22 of 25 passes – that's 88 percent, and two of those incompletions hit receivers' hands – for 265 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran for another score. We've run out of words to say how good the future Hall of Famer is, so we can only advise to enjoy the show. Now, show respect for the offensive line in general (again), and Jermon Bushrod in particular. Bushrod stepped in at left tackle for Terron Armstead in the second quarter and the offense didn't skip a beat. But Brees keeps shredding; he's up to 77.3 percent completions this season, with 21 touchdowns and one interception.
DEFENSE: This effort was so collective, it's hard not to honor the entire unit. But second-year linebacker Alex Anzalone has been an eye-catching playmaker the last three games, beginning with a forced fumble against Minnesota two games ago, then an interception last Sunday, then a sack, tackle for loss, quarterback hit and five tackles on Sunday against Cincinnati. Anzalone very much is the athletic, every-down linebacker the Saints envisioned he would be when they drafted him, and he fits nicely alongside Demario Davis and A.J. Klein. We can't ignore safety Marcus Williams (78-yard interception return) and cornerback Eli Apple (25-yard return of a pick), and the Saints posted three more sacks in addition to Anzalone. Still, Anzalone has been very, very impressive of late.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Three more field goals – from 29, 42 and 41 yards, respectively – has Wil Lutz up to 19 of 20 for the season. That might not impress you. It does the trick for me. Plus, he made a tackle on a kickoff return. Now, that's never something you want to see, the kicker having to stick his head in there during a 32-yard return. But it's what happened; Lutz is just as willing in that area as he is capable of being one of the league's most accurate kickers.