Following three consecutive games at home, the New Orleans Saints (4-7) return to the road to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) at Heinz Field on Sunday. The two teams have met 14 times with the series knotted at 7-7. Eight games between the two clubs have been decided by six points or fewer. Coach Sean Payton has split his two matchups against Pittsburgh, the last a 20-10 win on Oct. 31, 2010 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
After starting the season 3-3, the Steelers, who had a bye last weekend, have won four of their last five games and New Orleans will be playing one of the league's hottest clubs in the Steelers in a matchup between two offenses both ranked in the NFL's top five. Prior to their bye, Pittsburgh defeated the Tennessee Titans 27-14 on Monday, Nov. 17. Both New Orleans and the Atlanta Falcons are at 4-7 atop the NFC South, with the Carolina Panthers (3-7-1) trailing them by half a game. New Orleans can still control their destiny in the tightly-contested division.
The Saints are coming off a 34-27 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
New Orleans enters Sunday's contest ranked second in the NFL in total offense, averaging 433.6 yards per contest following a 525-yard output on Monday night. The Saints are third in passing (308.8 ypg.) and eighth in rushing (124.8). New Orleans ranks 27th overall in total defense (23rd against both the run and the pass). Pittsburgh ranks fifth overall in offense and are tied for 10th in rushing (119.5) and fifth in passing (286.9). On defense, the Steelers ranked 13th overall (10th vs. the run, 16th against the pass). The Saints have not allowed more than 243 net yards passing to an opponent in the last four contests.
In the losing effort to Cincinnati, QB Drew Brees completed 35-of-45 passes for 420 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and a 118.5 passer rating. It was the eighth-biggest passing yardage total in team records.
WR Marques Colston had four receptions for 82 yards (20.5 avg.), including a second quarter 26-yard touchdown reception. Leading the wideout corps with 38 grabs for 618 yards, Colston's 16.3 yards per catch average is a careerbest. With 65 touchdown connections with Brees, the duo is tied for sixth in NFL record books.
TE Jimmy Graham posted six receptions, two of which went for touchdowns. He leads New Orleans in receiving with 65 grabs for 670 yards with nine touchdowns, the final total which ties for fourth in the NFL. Graham is on the brink of becoming the first player in team record books to have three seasons with 10 or more touchdown catches. With 50 touchdown grabs in his five seasons, Graham is one of only seven players in NFL history to have at least 50 TD catches through five seasons.
This Week In The NFC South: Carolina travels to Minnesota, Tampa Bay hosts Cincinnati and Atlanta will host the Arizona Cardinals.