Found November 15, 2013 on Fox Sports:
The last time the 49ers were in the Big Easy, they were this close to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Alas, that endeavor fell short, as San Fran departed for the West Coast empty-handed after a 34-31 Super Bowl loss. Despite this failure, the 2013 forecast was bright for the Niners, as the team believed it had found a franchise player in Colin Kaepernick, and with most of the integral components returning, were tabbed as NFC favorites. New Orleans' projection was not as auspicious. Granted, the organization was welcoming back head coach Sean Payton from his year-long sabbatical, and any team with Drew Brees at the helm would be formidable. Yet, on the surface, the Saints did little to shore up a defense that surrendered a league-high 440.1 yards per game, whereas the team's primary adversary, Atlanta, brought in high-profile acquisition Steven Jackson. Even the most optimistic Who-Dat fan would concede a Wild Card position was likely a lofty ambition. However, as the 2013 campaign enters Week 11, it's the Saints that are riding high and the Niners that are searching for answers. This battle between NFC titans serves as our FOX NFL Game of the Week. Five Things to Watch: New Orleans Saints Click here for a preview on the San Francisco 49ers Matchup Watch: Saints running game versus Niners front seven Dormant for the first half of the year, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles exploded last Sunday night against the Cowboys, combining for 244 rushing yards and three trips to pay dirt. Better yet, this trio added 115 yards and two touchdowns in the receiving game. Given the Saints entered as one of the worst terrain assaults in the league, and that said production came against a Dallas defense giving up a league-high 439.8 yards, the output has to be viewed as an aberration at the moment. The soil prowess will be put to the test on Sunday against a San Francisco resistance that is suffocating opponents to a mere 316.8 yards per game, sixth-best in the NFL. The Niners have been particularly stringent versus the run, conceding just 105.1 yards per outing. With San Fran slowly bringing back some of its hurt stars, as well as the return of Aldon Smith from his substance-abuse sabbatical, the best could be yet to come for this unit. New Orleans remains a pass-happy attack, yet the backfield contributions in the running and receiving arenas are vital to keeping the opposition honest. Whoever wins this matchup will likely dictate the outcome of the game. What's up with Marques Colston? Colston is coming off his best game of 2013, hauling in seven catches for 107 yards and a score. Stated above, this yield comes with a provision, as the Cowboys defense is something awful. Aside from last weekend's endeavor, it's been tough sledding for Colston, as the Saints wideout is averaging a career-low 56.1 yards per game. Worse, the 30-year-old has found the end zone just twice, a precipitous drop considering Colston had posted 58 touchdowns in his previous seven seasons. A lack of targets has played a part in this reduction. Unfortunately, it's not that Brees' affinity with Jimmy Graham has siphoned these looks; rather, it's been Colston's inability to cause separation over the middle, historically one of his greatest attributes. Whether injuries or age are the cause remains to be seen. Last week's conquest does give hope that Colston is starting to turn the corner. Facing a tough San Francisco secondary won't bestow the greatest of opportunities, yet Colston's execution, or lack thereof, will go a ways in determining New Orleans' success on Sunday. Spotlight: Saints defense "Magic" has been frequently used to describe the transformation of the New Orleans defense this year. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has energized a dormant resistance into one conceding a mere 18.1 points per game, fifth-best in the NFL. The biggest upgrade has been the performance of the secondary. Following last season's concession of 292.6 yards per outing (second-worst in football), the Saints now rank third in the league, holding opponents to 199.9 yards per contest. Perennially overshadowed by the high-octane offense, the New Orleans D is making noise of its own. Speaking of Ryan... The pairing of Ryan and New Orleans is a gift from the gridiron gods What other city would facilitate the Wolfman brewing it up with fans after a victory? Even if the Saints fail to win the Super Bowl, I demand Ryan be given his own float during Mardi Gras. He's the real-life, proactive version of "The Dude." If that's not cause for celebration, I'm not sure what is. The Saints win if... Kaepernick fails to secure the pigskin, Graham is able to find room to roam over the middle, the Saints show highlights of Jim Harbaugh losing his mind on the holding no-call that ended last year's Super Bowl on the Jumbotron... I think San Fran's latent offense awakes from its slumber, yet I'm not going against Brees in the Big Easy... Prediction: Saints 33, 49ers 31 Joel Beall is a writer for and He lives with a Golden Tee machine and a jump shot that's currently broken. Reach Joel on Twitter @FOXSportsBeall

New Orleans Saints: Temper expectations on the running game

In beating the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night the New Orleans Saints discovered something that has been missing all season—a running game. Mark Ingram hopped in the Delorean and looked like the Heisman Trophy version of himself with 145 yard and a touchdown on 14 carries (over 10 yards a carry!). Meanwhile Pierre Thomas averaged 5.1 yards a carry on 17 carries totaling 87 yards...

New Orleans Saints look to top old foe

A familiar foe in the San Francisco 49ers (6-3) will come into the Superdome to face the New Orleans Saints (7-2)in what figures to be the game of the weekend in the NFC. The Saints are coming off one of the more dominating performances the NFL has seen this season in their win over the Cowboys. The 49ers have been a thorn in the side of the Saints after knocking them out of the...

Saints rule out Kenny Vaccaro, Ben Watson

The New Orleans Saints have ruled out safety Kenny Vaccaro and tight end Ben Watson for this week’s game against the 49ers after suffering concussions last Sunday. #Saints officially rule out S Kenny Vaccaro and TE Benjamin Watson for this week's game against #49ers. Everyone else is listed as Probable. — Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) November 15, 2013 Need NFL Tickets?...

The worst controversies from a year in sports talk radio

The last week or so much of the sports media world has been focused on the incendiary comments of KNBR sports talk host Damon Bruce, whose awful rant about women not being welcome in sports went viral.  The controversy has now died down and most people have already moved on in this 24/7 news cycle.  Bruce was suspended for two days but he has his normal timeslot back and is talking...

16 Drew Brees fun facts

Drew Brees is an interesting guy. Many people know most facts about him, such as the fact that he is shorter than the prototypical NFL Quarterback. Or that he owns a Jimmy Johns. Or that he thinks the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are treated super well.But those are the big facts. I like to know a man more personally, in a way you can’t gather from just a few articles and twitter...

LB Parys Haralson says no 'hard feelings' towards 49ers: 'I'm a New Orleans Saint and I want to go out and help the Saints win'

New Orleans Saints LB Parys Haralson was traded from the 49ers to the Saints in August and had only good things to say about San Francisco, where he spent his first seven seasons. However, despite the good feelings, he wants to help put a 'L' in the loss column for his former team.

New Orleans Saints: 2013 Week 11 NFL Power Rankings (#3)

Last week: 3 (+0) Record: 7-2 After the Saints’ absolute trouncing of the Cowboys, in which they won by 32, despite muffing a punt, missing a field goal, and not recovering an opponent’s onside kick, they now lead the NFL in rate of moving the chains differential. They are moving the chains at an 82% rate, as opposed to 70% for opponents. This makes sense, as the Saints not only...

Saints injury report: Jimmy Graham, Kenny Vaccaro

The Saints play host to the 49ers this week and they’re starting to get players back to full strength. Several players were still limited in practice but most were ruled probable for Sunday’s tilt. As reported earlier in the week, Jimmy Graham is still being limited by foot and now elbow concerns but is likely to start. Safeties Roman Harper (knee) and Malcolm Jenkins (hamstring...

Ex-49er Haralson helping Saints' surging defense

While Saints outside linebacker Parys Haralson was pleased to be moving closer to family, he didn't otherwise know what to expect when he was traded from the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers to a New Orleans team emerging from the bounty scandal and a 7-9 record. After all, he was leaving one of the NFL's best defenses to join a unit that in 2012 went down as one...

Saints' offense thrives despite limited snaps from Jimmy Graham

The New Orleans Saints exploded offensively last week against Dallas, putting up 49 points, breaking a franchise single-game record with 625 yards and an NFL single-game record with 40 first downs. And one of the most potent skill players in the league played a minuscule role in the success. Tight end Jimmy Graham hauled in five receptions for only 59 yards against the Cowboys....

16 Drew Brees Fun Facts

Many people know most facts about him, but these are the lesser known ones.

Saints Nation: Who Are the Most Hated Current Players by Saints Fans?

I remember when the Saints went to San Francisco back in 2010 and won on the road 25-22 thanks to a last second Garrett Hartley field goal (by the way the last team we beat the 49ers) because of Frank Gore. After the game Scott Shanle told me that Frank Gore talked the most trash of any NFL player he had ever faced. Apparently he was just running his mouth non stop the entire game...

Drew Brees says Johnny Manziel 'can do it all,' can be NFL starter

Ever since Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel exploded on the scene in 2012, NFL scouts have been enamored with his playmaking ability yet wary of his 6-1, 200-pound frame. Manziel's 2013 campaign has put much of that concern to rest, as Manziel has moved up to No. 5 overall on the prospect rankings for the 2014 NFL Draft. Former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees...

Football Gameplan’s 2013 NFL Week 11 Preview – 49ers vs Saints (Video)

Our friends at Football Gameplan previewed this Sunday’s game between the 49ers and Saints. Need NFL Tickets? Loading... ZergNet The post Football Gameplan’s 2013 NFL Week 11 Preview – 49ers vs Saints (Video) appeared first on Pro Football Zone.

Saints Nation: What to Expect Sunday Against the 49ers Based on Recent History

There's already been a lot of talk about revenge and payback when discussing the 49ers coming to New Orleans this week. The last two times these teams have played it's been close but the Saints walked away from the contests beat up and defeated. The keys may seem simple, but I think it's important to do two things: 1. match the 49ers' intensity and 2. take care of...
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