When it comes to the best quarterbacks in the National Football League, Drew Brees is at the top of every list, in the same company as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, and Russell Wilson.
Brees, the talented signal-caller for New Orleans, has been the face of the franchise for more than a decade, throwing for at least 4,380 yards in his 11 seasons with the Saints (with five 5,000+ yard seasons under his belt).
So it’s a bit surprising that during the Saints’ (6-2) current six-game winning streak, Brees, a 10-time Pro Bowl selection, has only thrown for 300+ yards once as the Saints have turned to the ground game and a surprisingly opportunistic defense in staking their claim to first place in the NFC South.
Brees, who ranks fifth in the NFL with 2,214 passing yards and has tossed 13 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions, is still effectively leading a Saints’ offense that ranks sixth in the league in scoring (27.6 points per game). While Brees has completed 71.6 percent of his passes, his team is not solely relying on his right arm to deliver victories.
The Saints, who signed veteran running back Adrian Peterson to provide a lift to the running game, traded the future Hall of Famer to the Arizona Cardinals following a disappointing tenure (27 carries for 81 yards). Mark Ingram (123 carries for 541 yards, an average of 4.4 yards/rush) and rookie Alvin Kamara (52 rushes for 311 yards, 6.0 yards/rush) have more than filled in for Peterson.
A resurgent defense, which last year was the second-worst in scoring defense (28.4 points per game), now ranks ninth, allowing 19.6 points per game. New Orleans became just the third team in the Super Bowl era to start a season 0-2 and then win its next six games.
One way the Bills and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier might have the upper hand in the matchup with Brees: get pressure on the quarterback. According to Pro Football Focus, Brees has completed only 48.1 percent of his passes when facing pressure, but with one of the quickest releases in the NFL, getting to Brees can be a challenge.
The Bills (5-3) will try to put a halt to the Saints’ winning ways when the two teams square off at 1 p.m. Sunday at New Era Field.