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Saints Host Arizona Cardinals in Divisional Playoffs

    <span style="">Following a first-round bye, after clinching the NFC South title and the number one postseason seed in the conference, the New Orleans Saints (13-3) host the Arizona Cardinals in the Divisional Playoffs at the Louisiana Superdome on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (CT).  The Cardinals, who represented the NFC in the Super Bowl last season, survived a furious second-half rally by the Green Bay Packers and went on to defeat the Packers in overtime on a sack and fumble recovery for a touchdown in overtime to win 51-45.  

This will mark the first time that the Saints and the Arizona Cardinals will meet in postseason play.

The Saints enter the postseason after a record-setting 2009 campaign. New Orleans won it's first 13 games, setting a franchise single season record for wins and consecutive victories.

New Orleans ended the regular season with the NFL's No. 1 ranked offense (6th in rushing, 4th in passing) for the second consecutive time and for the third time in four seasons. QB Drew Brees was selected as the NFC's starter in the Pro Bowl and set an NFL single-season record, completing 70.6 percent of his attempts and also led the NFL with a career-high 109.6 passer rating and 34 touchdown passes. Two members of the offensive line, G Jahri Evans and T Jon Stinchcomb joined the quarterback as Pro Bowl selections.

In addition to Brees, there was plenty of firepower on offense to go around. A powerful run game improved 22 spots from 28th to sixth in NFL rankings led by the trio of Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush. Thomas led the Saints with 793 yards on only 147 carries (5.4 avg.) with six touchdowns, reaching 1,095 total yards from scrimmage with 39 grabs for 302 yards. Bell was an effective inside threat with 654 yards and five TDs on the ground. Bush led the Saints with 5.6 yards per carry and had eight scores combined in rushing and receiving.

Brees also had no shortage of targets in the passing game as WRs Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem combined for 166 receptions for 2,600 yards and 20 touchdowns. Colston reached the 1,000-yard mark for the third time in four seasons as he had 70 grabs for 1,074 yards and nine touchdowns.

A ball-hawking defensive unit finished second in the NFL with 39 takeaways, including 26 interceptions, the third-highest total in the league.

On the line, DE Will Smith enjoyed his finest season as a professional as he was ranked second in the NFC and fifth in the NFL with a career-high 13 sacks. Smith is accompanied up front with a blend of veteran presences including DT Anthony Hargrove, DE Bobby McCray and DE Paul Spicer, while a host of promising youngsters such as DT Sedrick Ellis, DT Remi Ayodele and DE Jeff Charleston round out the rotation.

LB Jonathan Vilma was elected defensive team captain and was selected to the Pro Bowl, leading the club with 130 tackles, adding three interceptions and two sacks. Vilma is joined by proven and dependable veteran outside linebackers in SLB Scott Fujita and WLB Scott Shanle.

On the back end, veteran S Darren Sharper, a key free agent acquisition, injected a playmaking element into the defense, tying a career-high and the NFL lead with nine interceptions for an NFL record 376 yards, three of which were returned for touchdowns. With 63 career-picks, Sharper stands tied for sixth all-time in NFL history, while he is ranked second with 11 run back for touchdowns. He is joined in the deep patrol by fellow safety Roman Harper and healthy cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer, as well as rookie Malcolm Jenkins and savvy veteran Randall Gay.

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