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Monday, December 30, 2013
Where the Saints rank: Playoff edition

By Mike Triplett

The New Orleans Saints (11-5) finished fourth in the NFL in both offensive and defensive yards -- completing their remarkable defensive turnaround.

Last year, the Saints set the NFL record for most yards allowed in a season (440.1 per game). This year, they dropped that down to 305.7. They also dropped from 28.4 points allowed per game to 19.0 (which also ranked fourth best in the NFL).

“There are a handful of (reasons),” coach Sean Payton said after the Saints’ Week 17 victory over Tampa Bay. “I thought getting (defensive coordinator Rob Ryan) in here and bringing that change and that enthusiasm, and the rest of the coaches on that side of the ball. We had a few pieces that we were able to add. ... And there is an ownership to it where the players are believing in what they are doing, feel good about what they are doing. And I think that is a part of teaching. …

“That success and confidence can be contagious. It can go the other way, but I think Rob and his staff have done a great job on defense. We still have work to do, but that’s encouraging.”

Here’s a look at where the Saints and this week’s opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) rank in those and other key statistical categories through the end of the regular season:

SAINTS OFFENSE:
Total yards: 4th (399.4 per game)
Passing yards: 2nd (307.4 per game)
Rushing yards: 25th (92.1 per game)
Third-down conversions: 3rd (43.9 percent)
Red-zone touchdowns: tied for 12th (56.1 percent)
Turnovers (giveaways): tie-4th fewest (19)
Sacks allowed: tied for 9th fewest (37)

SAINTS DEFENSE:
Total yards: 4th (305.7 per game)
Passing yards: 2nd (194.1 per game)
Rushing yards: 19th (111.6 per game)
Third-down conversions: 9th (34.7 percent)
Red-zone touchdowns: 18th (56.5 percent)
Turnovers (takeaways): 29th (19)
Sacks: 4th (49)

SAINTS TEAM:
Points scored: 10th (25.9 per game)
Points allowed: 4th (19.0 per game)
Turnover ratio: tied for 14th (even)
Time of possession: 2nd (32:41 per game)

SAINTS INDIVIDUALS:
QB Drew Brees: 5,162 yards (2nd), 39 touchdowns (2nd), 104.7 passer rating (6th), 70.5 Total QBR (4th)
TE Jimmy Graham: 16 total TDs (2nd), 16 receiving TDs (1st), 86 catches (13th), 1,215 receiving yards (15th)
WR Kenny Stills: 20.0 yards per reception (1st)
DE Cameron Jordan: 12.5 sacks (5th)
OLB Junior Galette: 12 sacks (6th)
CB Keenan Lewis: 4 interceptions (tied for 11th)
LB Curtis Lofton: 125 tackles (15th)
P Thomas Morstead: net average 42.3 yards per punt (3rd)

EAGLES OFFENSE:
Total yards: 2nd (417.3  per game)
Passing yards: 9th (256.9 per game)
Rushing yards: 1st (160.4 per game)
Turnovers (giveaways): tie-4th fewest (19)
Sacks allowed: 8th most (46)

EAGLES DEFENSE:
Total yards: 29th (394.2 per game)
Passing yards: 32nd (289.8 per game)
Rushing yards: 10th (104.4 per game)
Turnovers (takeaways): tie-3nd (31)
Sacks: 20th (37)

EAGLES TEAM:
Points scored: 4th (27.6 per game)
Points allowed: tied for 17th (23.9 per game)

EAGLES INDIVIDUALS:
RB LeSean McCoy: 1,607 rushing yards (1st), 5.1 yards per carry (5th)
QB Nick Foles: 119.2 passer rating (1st), 69.0 Total QBR (5th), 27 touchdown passes (8th)
WR DeSean Jackson: 1,332 receiving yards (9th), 16.2 yards per reception (9th)
WR Riley Cooper 17.8 yards per reception (3rd)