Saints' historic offense maintains incredible pace in rout

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints' offense has gone to ludicrous speed.

The Saints (9-1) just became the fourth team in NFL history to score 45-plus points in three straight games, along with the 2007 Patriots team that went 16-0 in the regular season, the 1968 Browns and the 1941 Bears, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

And they decimated the Philadelphia Eagles worse than any team has ever beaten a defending Super Bowl champion -- a 48-7 blowout that saw Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram dancing on the sideline for much of the second half.

"I think this is the best offense I've ever been a part of -- by far," said Ingram, which is especially notable considering he was part of the 2011 Saints offense that still holds the NFL record with 7,474 yards in a season.

Drew Brees -- who has been pretty ludicrous himself while throwing 25 touchdown passes and just one interception at age 39 -- refused to make such comparisons.

But the evidence is certainly mounting in favor of this 2018 squad, which has won nine straight games and is threatening to shatter the NFL record for the highest scoring rate.

The Saints have scored on 62.5 percent of their offensive possessions and lad the NFL with 37.8 points per game. That would be by far the most of any team since the league expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The record belongs to those 2007 Patriots at 53 percent.

The Saints are now the only team ever to score 40-plus points six times in their first 10 games, according to Elias.

When asked if this season feels different than that '11 team or the 2009 Super Bowl team that he was a part of, Saints offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod said simply, "It feels good."

"We've got these playmakers like we have. And we just have to do our job up front, just give 'em a few seconds," Bushrod said.

What is perhaps most impressive about this latest incarnation of the "Gulf Coast offense" is the way the Saints just keep gaining steam and avoiding any hint of a letdown.

Whether the Saints could be accused of running up the score on the Eagles with Brees' 37-yard TD pass to Kamara on fourth-and-6 with 13:15 remaining in the game and the Saints leading by 31, this is how they have been playing for weeks -- with their foot firmly pressed down on the gas pedal.

(For the record, Saints coach Sean Payton said it was too early in the game to let up against an opponent with an explosive offense, and Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he would have done the same thing).

Last week's trip to Cincinnati felt like it might be a "trap game" for the Saints after they had survived a brutal three-game stretch at Baltimore, at Minnesota and home against the Los Angeles Rams. Instead, New Orleans scored on its first nine possessions while routing the Bengals 51-14.

Then this week, the Saints scored on eight of their first nine possessions against the Eagles.

"Everybody wants to create this narrative, like it's a 'trap game' or a letdown, and we ain't worried about that," Ingram said. "We're trying to ascend every week, we're trying to get better every week. That's the goal, man.

"Just 'cuz we won nine straight doesn't mean we're guaranteed to win the Super Bowl or guaranteed to win a playoff game or guaranteed to win the next game. It doesn't matter. This league is tough and you gotta be ready to go every week. So I think that's what we've been doing a good job of."

Speaking of some of the great Saints teams in past years, maybe this one is well aware of how important it will be to earn the No. 1 seed and play at home in January. Those 2011 Saints finished 13-3 but lost in the divisional round at San Francisco. Last year's 11-5 Saints team lost in the divisional round at Minnesota.

And no one appreciates that better than Brees, who presumably won't play forever -- and is playing like a guy who wants to exploit this golden opportunity.

Brees threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns Sunday. Thomas, who caught four passes for 92 yards and a touchdown Sunday, now has 82 catches for 1,042 yards, making him the first player in Saints history to begin his career with three 1,000-yard seasons. Kamara has 15 TDs this season, and Ingram has now run for more than 100 yards in back-to-back games.

But they weren't the only ones getting in on the fun. Rookie receiver Tre'Quan Smith had 10 catches for 157 yards and a touchdown Sunday, shattering his previous career high of three catches in a game. Second-year receiver Austin Carr caught his first career touchdown pass. And undrafted rookie receiver Keith Kirkwood caught three passes for 33 yards in the first quarter in just his second career game.

"Early on it became evident that Philly was really wanting to take away Michael Thomas, to the point where it was just two guys on him running around the field everywhere. And same with Alvin for the most part," Brees said. "So that was opportunities for some of these other guys to get touches, to get matchups, and they all made the most of it."

Last but not least, the Saints can't really afford to let up with the Rams (9-1) still in serious contention in the NFC. So they'll have to keep that foot on the gas as they turn around quickly this week and get ready to host the rival Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving night.

But it looks like they have no problem keeping up that pace.