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Cowboys @ Saints: 5 Questions With Canal Street Chronicles

We took a little time to chat with Saintsational over at Canal Street Chronicles to get his take on the upcoming game and the Saints perfect season. Enjoy!

1. Do you think the Saints will make it to 16-0? If you wrap up the #1 seed in the NFC, do you want the Saints to rest players for the playoffs or take a shot at the perfect season? 

Honestly, the answer to your first question will be more clear after Saturday night's game. The Cowboys represent, in my opinion, the final true hurdle in the race for perfection. The Saints final two games are against significantly weaker opponents, Tampa Bay and Carolina, and they should have a fairly easy time winning. As a fan, I think they can do it. After this season, I think they can do anything. 

As far as the debate over sitting or playing starters, head coach Sean Payton, Drew Brees and other Saints have already said they won't take their foot off the accelerator and want to go for it. Payton has also said that it will ultimately be up to the players to make the decision. Let's face it, this is the Saints we're talking about and this opportunity may not arrive for another 43 years. You can't leave the chance for history on the table.   

2. The Saints have had some great escapes recently. Is there a sense that the team is not playing as well as they were earlier in the year? Obviously you're still winning, but are cracks starting to show?

This is a great question and actually a predominant thought in my mind recently. Let's face it, the Saints have not been winning in the same convincing fashion they were earlier this season. I can't help but feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop and that, eventually, this magic carpet ride is going to end. 

The offense is still kicking butt and taking names; the issue is not on that side of the ball. But the defense is starting to fade. Much of that I think is due to missing starting cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer. Opposing offenses have been able to gain big yardage on long passing plays, much like we saw in recent years past. Saints fans are hopeful that the return of Porter and Greer will signal a return to shut down defense.

Of course, the wear and tear of the season is probably taking its toll as well.

3. The opposing teams that came closest to winning - what did they do to 'almost win'? Which is the more likely way of beating the Saints, slowing down the offense, or taking your chances in shootout?

I get this question every week and I answer it the same way each time: Bring pressure early, often and always. Teams have got to bring constant pressure on Drew Brees from all different angles using different looks. Confuse the hell out of him and always keep your hands up at the line attempting to bat down balls. And lastly, do it for the full sixty minutes. Don't ever quit or the Saints will claw back. 

The best way to beat the Saints is definitely to try and shut down the offense. The Saints will be able to keep up if the Cowboys focus on offense and want to get into a shootout. Even on a bad day, the Saints will still probably put up more than twenty points, so Dallas will need to shut down the Saints offense as well as put up a decent number on offense. 

4. With the multitude of offensive weapons on your side, who is the one guy you'd advise the opposing defense stops to beat New Orleans (besides Brees)?

If I had to give an answer to this question I would probably say Pierre Thomas. He is a threat on the ground as well as a receiver coming out of the backfield. Mike Bell will probably not play on Saturday or at least be limited, meaning Thomas should get most of the work. Shutting down Pierre will essentially shut down the Saints rushing offense. Of course, that still leaves Reggie Bush in the mix and though not as consistent, he can be incredibly dangerous. Unfortunately, there is a good chance that Payton wouldn't stick with Bush even if he was playing well. 

My real answer, though, is that it doesn't matter. Dallas can pick two players to isolate and focus on and it still won't do them any good. If the Saints can't run, they will just let Drew take over. If Dallas tries to double team any one receiver, there will be three others than are just as talented and just as dangerous. Drew spreads the ball around too much, causing headaches for defensive game plans. 

5. The Saints defense gives up a lot of yards, but makes up for it with turnovers. Do you worry that the turnovers could dry up and the defense starts losing games?

Who needs the defense to cause turnovers when you've got talented wide receivers like Robert Meachem stripping balls and scoring touchdowns? Seriously though, it's definitely a worry. They've already started to dry up a bit. Sharper has been quiet lately and starting cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer are both out with injuries. 

Yet, even last week, they somehow managed to pull off a perfectly timed turnover at the end of the game to seal it. This season has defied logic so many times in so many ways. With a little magic and a touch of luck on the side of the Saints this year, I firmly believe it may never end. 

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