NEW ORLEANS The new New Orleans Saints never cease to amaze.
Nearly 300 yards rushing with 237 courtesy of running backs Mark Ingram (131) and rookie Alvin Kamara (106) ... a franchise-record six rushing touchdowns (three by Ingram plus one by Kamara) ... on the road ... in November ... in the elements against Buffalo in upstate New York.
And quarterback Drew Brees had no passing TDs — but one rushing TD — and threw for less than 200 yards in a game when the offense put up 47 points!
The last time a NFL team scored six rushing TDs and didn’t have to punt in the same game occurred 76 years ago when FDR occupied the White House.
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During one stretch in third and fourth quarters against Buffalo, the Saints ran the ball on 24 consecutive plays, including all 10 plays on a 94-yard touchdown drive.
Who are these guys?
If the Saints keep playing like they have during their current seven-game winning streak when they have bested their opponents by an average score of 33-14, I’ll tell you who they are: At the very least NFC South champions with a good shot of representing the NFC in Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.
And I say this with unabashed confidence because these new Saints do two things extremely well: They run the football with authority (142.2 ypg, league-best 14 rushing TDs) behind a versatile, athletic offensive line and they have transformed themselves into a top-10 defense under coordinator Dennis Allen.
A stout running game and a gritty defense bode well for the Saints, especially if they have to play outdoors in the postseason, say, in Philadelphia where the NFC East-leading Eagles currently own the No. 1 seed.
Throw in Hall of Fame shoo-in Brees and a top-shelf passing game and the new Saints, indeed, are the real deal.
And while they seem to be converting doubters with each passing, er, running week, we will gather additional, critical information in Weeks 12 and 13 against the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams in LA-La Land (Nov. 26) and the suddenly formidable Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (Dec. 3).
That’s not to diminish the importance of Sunday’s home game against the potentially dangerous Washington Redskins (4-5). It promises to be more than a speed bump despite what the oddsmakers say -- Saints are favored by 7 1/2-to-9 points. This matchup has all the trappings of an ambush if the Saints let their guard down.
The Redskins have played well on the road, winning at the Rams in Week 2 and at Seattle in Week 9. Beating the Rams in a road-friendly environment at half-empty Los Angeles Memorial Stadium in Week 2 is one thing, rallying to beat the Seahawks and the vaunted “12th Man’’ in the final minute in Week 9 is quite another.
I suspect Saints coach Sean Payton will remind his players not to eat the cheese and to block out the collateral noise from a burgeoning bandwagon. I also suspect we’ll see the same old Saints on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
Make that the same new Saints.
Brian Allee-Walsh is a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans. He can be reached at email@example.com.