- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Looking back: Brees has been outstanding, as usual, this season. He hasn’t always been dominant, but even in the games where he struggled (at Tampa Bay in Week 2 and at New England in Week 6), he rallied with some huge plays in the fourth quarter. There’s probably some room for nit-picking. For instance, Brees showed some frustration against the Patriots, completing just 17 of 36 passes while go-to guys Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston were well-covered. But Brees was brilliant in the two previous weeks against Miami and at Chicago.
Brees ranks second in the NFL with 1,958 passing yards and is tied for second with 14 touchdowns passes (both well behind Peyton Manning). He has five interceptions. His passer rating of 102.6 ranks fourth in the NFL and his Total Quarterback Rating of 72.6 ranks sixth.
Looking forward: I expect more of the same – which is the No. 1 reason why I expect the Saints to win the NFC South and contend for a top-two playoff seed. I also think Brees is en route to another runner-up finish in the NFL MVP race (assuming anyone other than Manning gets a vote). We haven’t seen the consistent explosiveness from the Saints’ passing game this year that we saw in 2011. But at times, we’ve seen even more steadiness and patience than usual (see: Week 5 at Chicago). I think Brees’ confidence and comfort level have clearly returned this year with coach Sean Payton back on the sideline.
That confidence and comfort could be shaken a bit, though, if Graham is out for an extended period with his foot injury. Brees has always been willing to spread the ball around to any open man. But Graham -- and the threat of Graham -- makes Brees even more dangerous.
ESPN scouting Insider Matt Williamson’s take: “Brees looks like, well, Brees again to me. He’s playing outstanding football with a great command of the offense and in the pocket. Throwing the ball really well, even though I worry a bit more about his wide receivers now. And maybe most importantly, he isn’t forcing so many throws, which have led to interceptions in the past.”