For the Saints, it's as if 2012 never happened.
After three games a year ago, they were 0-3 without coach Sean Payton and coming off an overtime home loss to Kansas City when they blew an 18-point second-half lead.
With Payton back from his one-season bounty ban, New Orleans is 3-0 after a 31-7 rout of Arizona that resembled many of the games in Payton's best seasons. New Orleans also started 3-0 under Payton tenure in 2006, when the Saints reached the NFC championship game, and 2009, when they won the Super Bowl.
Payton dismissed the comparisons Monday, saying it's the media's job to ''to reference all those things.'' But for the Saints, the coach says ''it's noise.''
He pointed out that Arizona ''was 4-0 last year at the start of the season and ended up firing a general manager and a head coach.''
While that might sound like typical Payton, it is one of the reasons the Saints believe they are off to a fast start. They say with Payton back, the distractions of last season are ...