Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 15, 2018 at 12:24 am.

Hard to slow down Saints offensive train

The New Orleans Saints are now the highest-scoring team in the NFL.

Their season-high point total in a 51-14 victory against Cincinnati last week increased their scoring average to 36.7, which sent them past the Kansas City Chiefs into first place.

The balance between the run (eighth best) and the pass (seventh best) has produced the fifth-most yards per game.

The combination of quarterback Drew Bress, running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II and wide receiver Michael Thomas, all operating with an outstanding line, has made it extremely difficult for teams to slow New Orleans down.

“There’s a lot obviously (that goes into it),” Saints head coach Sean Payton said. “We’re hoping to have balance. I think our offensive line has played well. We’ve been consistent rushing the football. I feel like Drew is playing at a high level and the younger players are getting up to speed that are in roles whether they’re at receiver, running back, tight end.

“We have to keep looking to try to improve in the areas we feel like we’ve struggled and quite honestly some of our third-down numbers haven’t been good. Some of our red-zone numbers haven’t been good. But I think that having that ability to rush or pass is something that can help.”

The Saints’ lowest point total came in a 21-18 victory against Cleveland in the second game of the season and in the last three games they have averaged 42 points in wins against the Vikings, Rams and Bengals.

New Orleans (8-1) hosts the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles (4-5) on Sunday.

“As an offensive line, collectively, we have been meshing really well,” right tackle Ryan Ramczyk said. “We continue to come out each week and improve on little things and play at a high level. I think just the cohesiveness up front really helps us out.

“Then guys like Mark, Alvin, Drew, and Michael and all those guys around us are special athletes too and really good. I think together as an offense, when we come together, we can make a lot of great things happen.”

New Orleans, which has scored on more than 60 percent of its possessions, added another piece to the puzzle with its second signing of a former Pro Bowl receiver in the past week.

Last week the Saints signed Dez Bryant, but he went on injured reserve after tearing an Achilles in his second practice. They replaced Bryant with Brandon Marshall, who went through his first practice with his new team Wednesday.

Marshall said it was “a receiver’s dream” to play with Brees.

“It’s a complete team,” Marshall added, “and they’re on a roll right now.”

SERIES HISTORY: 28th regular-season meeting. Eagles lead series, 16-11. The Eagles have won the last two meetings, both of which were in Philadelphia, the most recent being a 29-17 triumph in 2015. The Saints won the last meeting in New Orleans, 28-13, in 2012 and are 8-7 in regular-season meetings in New Orleans. The Saints are 2-1 against the Eagles in the playoffs, including a 1-1 record in New Orleans. Their 27-24 home victory after the 2006 season was their first victory in a divisional playoff game and their 26-24 victory at Lincoln Financial Field after the 2012 season was their first playoff victory on the road.