Recommended read: How to beat Saints

November, 1, 2011
11/01/11
5:05
PM ET
Check out this Insider post Insider by Football Outsiders Vince Verhei. It basically lays out a game plan for beating the New Orleans Saints.

You can see large portions of that plan by going back and looking at New Orleans’ loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. The Rams sacked Drew Brees six times and took tight end Jimmy Graham out of the game for the most part.

Putting constant pressure on Brees and taking Graham out of the game are a lot easier said than done and not every team the Saints play the rest of this season will be able to accomplish those things. The Saints had a bad game and I’m pretty sure the offensive line, Brees and Graham all will bounce back.

But Verhei brings up something else that I think is a much bigger issue for the Saints. If they’re going to win the NFC South and make any kind of a run at the Super Bowl, the Saints have to improve their run defense dramatically.

The Saints are allowing 124.1 rushing yards per game. That’s 23rd in the league, but that’s even more troubling than it sounds. Since the Saints often have been ahead, opponents sometimes abandon the run. Opponents are averaging 22.7 runs per game against the Saints. That’s the sixth-lowest figure in the NFL.

The Saints are going to have to get by Tampa Bay and Atlanta to win the NFC South. The Bucs have LeGarrette Blount and the Falcons have Michael Turner. Those are two power runners and both have shown they can wear a defense down.

If the Saints can’t stop Blount on Sunday or Turner in their two remaining games with Atlanta, they could have some major problems.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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