This season, his 17th in the league, Drew Brees set the NFL record for completion percentage for the third time.
You probably hadn’t heard, amid the hype for the weapons around him and the chatter that Brees’ career is on its downswing, but while no one was watching, the 38-year-old Saints quarterback completed 72 percent of his passes, surpassing Sam Bradford’s record mark from a year ago. These were not Bradfordian checkdowns, either. Brees has been slinging it all season, leading the league in yards per attempt (8.1), while throwing interceptions at a lower rate (1.5 percent) than at any point in his career. He’s as efficient of a quarterback as he’s ever been.
No one is confusing 2017 for Brees’ most dynamic season. This is a man who owns five of the nine 5,000-yard passing campaigns in NFL history. But his results this season are definitive proof that, while he may look different now than he did during the Saints’ last magical postseason run, Brees still has it.
And for that reason, the Saints are my pick to win the Super Bowl.
New Orleans has been piling up fantasy stats for years, but for the first time since its charmed run in 2010, there’s actually substance behind the flash. Brees doesn’t need to carry the weight of his offense entirely on his shoulders. The Saints are loaded with weapons, all of which can hurt you in a multitude of ways. Shut down one facet of their offense, and they can pivot to another.
Brees threw his fewest touchdown passes (23) in 14 years, but the New Orleans running game is as good as its been in franchise history. Mark Ingram and electrifying rookie Alvin Kamara led the league in yards per carry (4.7) and smashed every other NFL team in rushing touchdowns (23). The next-closest team finished the season with 18.
That duo also happened to combine for 1,242 receiving yards and five touchdowns, which, together, would qualify as the seventh-best receiving mark in the NFL this season, just behind their teammate, Michael Thomas, who is already establishing himself as the most dynamic wideout Brees has ever worked with.
And that’s just the offense. The defense, long the Saints’ Achilles heel, has been totally rebuilt. The forever-underrated Cameron Jordan has terrorized opposing quarterbacks more than ever before, finishing with 13 sacks this season. Along with the Rams’ Aaron Donald and the Jaguars’ Calais Campbell, he is one of the few players in the playoffs capable of completely derailing a game…