The New Orleans Saints are playing some of their best football of the season in the last three weeks, including Sunday’s 20-10 victory over the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
As you might suspect, the Saints (7-9), winners of three straight, also are receiving some of their best performances.
OFFENSE: If running back Alvin Kamara had been able to score and set the franchise all-time mark with 73 career touchdowns, the choice would have been easy. And, probably, if quarterback Andy Dalton hadn't thrown a bad interception near the end of the first half, which kept the Saints from adding a field goal at worst, his efficiency (18 for 22 for 204 yards) might even have been enough to shove aside the six sacks he took, maybe half of which he should have avoided. But in lieu of that, rookie receiver Rashid Shaheed was targeted six times, caught passes each time and led the team with 79 receiving yards. His 58-yard reception further showed that the Saints are scheming him up the right way, able to design ways to get him free deep even though opponents know that's what the Saints want.
DEFENSE: In Marshon Lattimore's first NFL game since Oct. 9, he intercepted a pass and returned it 12 yards for the game's final score, had two passes defensed and six tackles, and provided the kind of coverage expected from one of the league's best cornerbacks. But defensive end Cameron Jordan had three sacks, and the third one gave him 115.5 in his Saints career, which places him atop the ladder for the lead in franchise history. Rickey Jackson had 115. Jordan's historic run began in 2011, his rookie year, when he recorded one sack; he never has had less than 7.5 in a season since then, and has a team-leading 8.5 entering Sunday's game against Carolina in the Caesars Superdome. Jordan also forced a fumble, had four quarterback hits and a tackle for loss as the Saints held the NFL's highest-scoring team (29.7 per game) to one-third of its average.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Kudos to both guys who kick the ball. Wil Lutz made a 54-yard field goal and a 20-yarder, both in the second quarter, to help New Orleans take a 13-0 lead. Blake Gillikin punted six times; five of them were downed inside the 20. Outstanding work from each.