Difference between Pack and Saints in the numbers
They are one win away from reaching the Super Bowl.
And, on Oct. 26, 2014, the Green Bay Packers were routed, 44-23, by the New Orleans Saints.
The win was the last one at home for the Saints in 2014. New Orleans lost five straight at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to end the season.
The side-by-side team comparison is compelling. The Saints averaged 411 yards of offense a game. The Packers averaged 386 yards of offense a game.
The Saints were roundly criticized for their putrid return game. They were 30th in the league in return yards, only one spot behind the 29th- ranked Packers.
The Packers had 41 quarterbacks sacks; the Saints 34.
So, why did Green Bay win 12 regular season games and the Saints win seven?
Well, New Orleans was minus-13 in turnover margin. Green Bay was tops in the league at plus-14.
Green Bay had three interception returns for touchdowns. The Saints? None. Green Bay had 18 interceptions; the Saints had 12.
Thirty-four-year-old defensive end Julius Peppers had an impact season.
Peppers had seven sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
Even though the Saints were first in the NFL in total offense, the Packers scored five points more per game.
The Packers had plenty of playmakers; the Saints not enough.
In the 2014 regular season, Saints wide receivers caught 12 touchdown passes. Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson caught 13 TD passes. Teammate Randall Cobb had 12.
Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy accounted for 13 touchdowns, nine rushing.
So, while many clamor for the Saints to rebuild their offensive line, quickly, they have more pressing issues.
Green Bay’s starting offensive line is all home grown.
Four of the five were drafted in the fourth round or lower.
Only tackle Bryan Bulaga was a first-round pick.
Big plays are what the Saints desperately need.
Green Bay got one late in the third quarter of its divisional playoff victory over Dallas.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit wide receiver Davante Adams over the middle late in the third quarter.
Adams shook a defender and raced to the end zone to complete a 46-yard touchdown play.
Green Bay took the lead and never trailed.
The Packers were headed to the NFC championship at Seattle.
Five years ago this weekend, the Saints were preparing to host the NFC Championship Game.
That team was scary good. Reggie Bush was a legitimate threat in space and in the return game.
Wide receiver Robert Meachem, a legitimate deep threat, had his best season as a pro.
And, safety Darren Sharper led a Saints defense that produced 39 turnovers.
The Saints won 13 games.
In 2014, they won half as many.
Scary, they were not.