Saints’ offense rolling ahead of visit to Tennessee

Field Level Media

December 19, 2019 at 9:00 am.

The New Orleans Saints bounced back after losing control of their playoff seeding.

The Tennessee Titans will try to bounce back after losing control of their playoff prospects.

The Titans will host the NFC South champion Saints on Sunday in a game that will have a significant effect on both teams’ postseason hopes.

New Orleans (11-3) will be either the No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Saints currently are No. 3 but can move up if they win and get some help.

After losing a showdown against the San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago, the Saints rebounded to rout the Indianapolis Colts 34-7 in their home finale on Monday night.

New Orleans has averaged 34.8 points in its past five games after topping 33 points just once in the first nine games. Drew Brees threw four touchdown passes against the Colts to give him 541 for his career, breaking Peyton Manning’s all-time record.

Brees also set a league mark for single-game completion percentage by connecting on 29 of 30 passes vs. Indianapolis.

He is showing no ill effects from thumb surgery that forced him to miss five games earlier this season, all of which the Saints won.

“Like most really good football teams, they continue to improve and develop,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of the Saints. “I think that Drew missing a few weeks and then being able to be back in there, I think there’s been some strong continuity.

“(He’s) pretty much healthy for the most part, and everybody’s kind of finding their balance and their rhythm to what they want to do and the different personnel groups seem to be functioning at a high level.”

The New Orleans defense played much better against the Colts than it did against the 49ers, but the Saints still felt a need to claim former Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins off waivers this week to bolster the pass defense.

“We value the player, especially the position,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “It’s always a difficult position to find. He gives us versatility, and I think that’s important here down the stretch.”

Tennessee (8-6) is 6-2 since Ryan Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota as the starting quarterback. The Titans had won four straight before a 24-21 home last Sunday against the Houston Texans, a result that broke a tie for first place in the AFC South.

“When they went on that four-game winning streak, they were playing a complementary game offensively and defensively, in the special teams,” Payton said. “They were doing all the things necessary to win football games, and (Tannehill) was part of that.”

Titans running back Derrick Henry was voted to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday despite being slowed by a hamstring injury. He participated in practice Wednesday and should play Sunday.

Tennessee rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown has four 100-yard receiving games, and he reached that mark in each of the past two contest.

The Titans visit the Texans next week, but Houston can wrap up the AFC South title by winning at Tampa Bay on Saturday. That would leave Tennessee fighting for a wild-card spot.

“We understand that we’ll play them again,” Vrabel said, “but we have to focus on what (last week’s) game was, the stuff that came out of it, and then we have to move forward to the Saints and put our focus there.”