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Saturday Showdown in the Superdome

    <span>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]( (11-6) in the Divisional Playoffs at the Louisiana Superdome on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (CT).   

The Saints enter the postseason after a record-setting 2009 campaign. New Orleans won their 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 year and for the third time in four seasons. QB Drew Brees, who was selected as the NFC's starter in the Pro Bowl, 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 6th 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. Bush led the Saints with 5.6 yards per carry and had eight scores running 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 defensive 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.

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.

On the back end of the secondary, 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 in NFL history, while he is ranked second with 11 run back for touchdowns.

Arizona enters Saturday's game after a 51-45 overtime win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Wild Card Playoff at University of Phoenix Stadium, the highest-scoring game in playoff history. The Saints and Cardinals have never played each other in the postseason.

DATE: Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010
TIME: 3:30 (CT)
SITE: Louisiana Superdome

WORTH NOTING: The Saints scored a club-record 510 points in 2009, the ninth-highest single season point total in NFL history...QB Drew Brees, G Jahri Evans, S Darren Sharper, T Jon Stinchcomb and LB Jonathan Vilma were selected to the Pro Bowl, Brees, Evans and Sharper as starters...Brees completed 363-of-514 passes for 4,388 yards with 34 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and a 109.6 passer rating, leading the league in completion percentage (70.6), TD throws and rating, while setting the NFL single season record for completion percentage...Sharper tied for the league lead with nine interceptions for an NFL single season record 376 yards, with three returns for TDs...The game will be nationally televised on FOX (WVUE-FOX 8 in the New Orleans area) with Kenny Albert handling play-by-play, Daryl Johnston serving as color analyst and Tony
Siragusa on the sidelines...The game can heard regionally on the Saints Radio Network 870 AM or 105.3 FM locally) with Jim Henderson handling play-by-play, Hokie Gajan serving as color analyst and Kristian Garic reporting from the Saints sidelines.

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