The New Orleans Saints started the season by losing three straight games, only to play themselves right back into contention behind improved play and Drew Brees’ big arm.
Brees and Co. won their first game before the bye week, then two out of the next three to climb into the NFC South race.
For the San Francisco 49ers (1-6), it is likely too late to salvage Chip Kelly’s first season as coach.
The Saints (3-4) should feel pretty confident about their chances coming to the Bay Area this weekend to face the lowly Niners after their week off.
“I just feel like we’re building something here, and different than the last few years,” Brees said, referring specifically to the previous two seasons, when the Saints started 1-3 or worse, rallied back to 4-4, but stumbled to 7-9 finishes. “I feel like we’ve got some pieces in place now that are here for the longer term and we’ve got a great opportunity.”
Last weekend, Brees and his balanced offense wore down the Seahawks’ typically stellar defense.
Flustering Brees will be tough for a defense ranked worst in the league against the run that is a far cry from the dominant unit it was. Brees has thrown for 465, 367 and 265 yards in his last three games, but those numbers were down in the 25-20 win against Seattle considering the Saints ran the ball as many times as they threw it for a change.
“Just tackle him,” said 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who has 4 1 / 2 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in four games against the Saints.
The Saints haven’t played at San Francisco since losing 36-32 in the divisional playoffs after the 2011 season .
Brees has a pair of four-touchdown performances this season and has thrown for 18 TDs total to give him 446 in his career. Now, he needs only four more – might he do it against the Niners D? – to become the third player to pass for 450 touchdowns. Peyton Manning with 539 and Hall of Famer Brett Favre at 508 are the others.