I can't wait for Sunday.
And, it's not because one of the best teams in the NFL travels to take on one of the hottest teams in the NFL.
I live in the Bay Area and all you hear on sports-talk radio is who should be the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers? Is Alex Smith done? etc.
I understand if you talk about it on Tuesday, the day after Colin Kaepernick destroyed one of the best defenses in the NFL. But, to continually talk about it all day and all night for the entire week is too much.
So instead of telling you who should be the starting quarterback for San Francisco, let's actually dissect one of the best games on Sunday.
The New Orleans Saints started the season 0-4 and everyone was writing them off. Everyone had a good reason to, 183 teams have started 0-4 since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, and only the 1992 San Diego Chargers made the playoffs. Statistically the Saints have a 0.005% chance at making the playoffs.
Luckily for the Saints, they don't care about stats and the past.
The Saints are currently riding a three game winning streak and have won five of their last six.
This Sunday will be the real test for New Orleans to see if we should take them as serious postseason contenders.
The (7-2-1) San Francisco 49ers travel to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to take on the (5-5) New Orleans Saints.
The Niners have been a weird team in 2012. They dominated Arizona three weeks ago, followed that up with a tie against St. Louis (third worst team in the NFC), then destroyed the (7-2) Chicago Bears.
Jim Harbaugh just sent Roger Goodell a text asking if the Niners can just play every game on Monday night now. The Niners are 3-0 on MNF since Harbaugh took over, outscoring their opponents 76-13.
The Saints high-powered offense will face one of the best, if not the best, defense on Sunday.
New Orleans ranks sixth in total offense, third in passing offense, tied for fourth in points/game and fifth in third down conversions.
San Francisco ranks second in total defense, second in passing defense, seventh in rushing defense, first in points/allowed and third in third down defense.
Let's take a look at three keys that will play dividends in the outcome on Sunday.
SAN FRANCISCO QB vs. NEW ORLEANS SECONDARY
The reason why I say the 49ers' QB is because we are still not sure who will be starting. All the signs point to Colin Kaepernick getting his second career start, but it is still unclear. Even if Kaepernick gets the nod, don't be shocked if Harbaugh uses two quarterbacks on Sunday.
I don't think it matters who the quarterback for San Francisco is on Sunday because the Saints pass defense has been horrific all year.
New Orleans has the second worst pass defense in the NFL. They are allowing 305 yards/game through the air and have made it easy for opposing quarterbacks.
Colin Kaepernick showed why the 49ers are so high on their second year quarterback out of Nevada. He destroyed the Chicago Bears last Monday night.
Kaepernick finished the game 16-23 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. It wasn't the stats that showed how good this kid really is though. He wanted to show why he thinks he is the best quarterback on the team, and he did that. His calm demeanor showed how confident he is. He was poise throughout the game, and you would have never guessed he was going up against one of the best defense in the NFL. The Bears defense entered last Monday fourth in total defense, third in scoring and first in takeaways.
Kaepernick led the Niners offense to 32 points, 353 total yards and most importantly, 0 turnovers.
He destroyed Chicago's defense and all signs point he should do the same against the Saint's defense.
However, he will see a lot of different looks this Sunday. The Bears typically run a cover-two defense the entire game. The Saints defense will switch it up a lot more to try and confuse the two-year quarterback.
However, the different defensive schemes won't hurt the Niners' quarterback, whether it's Kaepernick or Smith, on Sunday. New Orleans is still getting use to Steve Spagnuolo's defense and have looked lost at times this year.
The New Orleans Saints defense will continue to be one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL on Sunday. Expect a big day for whoever is behind center for San Francisco.
DREW BREES vs. SAN FRANCISCO SECONDARY
Drew Brees is still one of the top-three quarterbacks in the NFL. There is not a more accurate passer in the game.
He has thrown for 3,066 yards and 28 touchdowns this year. He might not be having the record-breaking season he had last year, but the guy is still ballin' this season. Anytime you bring up Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, Drew Brees better be considered in that same discussion as one of the game's best.
Bree's ranks in the top-ten among all quarterbacks in passing yards, touchdowns, yards/attempt, passer rating and QBR.
A lot of people say the Niners secondary is their biggest weakness on defense. Not bad when your biggest weakness is second in the NFL in passing defense. San Francisco is only allowing 183 yards/game through the air. A lot of their success has to do with the Smith brother's constantly putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
If the Saints want to pull this one out, Brees' needs to have a BIG game. No way New Orleans wins this game if Brees doesn't throw for more than 300 yards. It is tough to run against the 49ers defense, so it will be crucial for Brees to do most the work.
Expect Brees to have a decent game, but not the game the Saints' need him to have to beat one of the best teams in the NFL.
THE SMITH BROTHERS
There might not be a better 1-2 punch in the NFL than Aldon Smith and Justin Smith. I find it absurd that Justin Smith has never been named "NFL Defensive Player of the Year" in his 12-year career. You can say what you want, but in my eyes there isn't a better defensive lineman in the NFL.
Justin Smith isn't about the stats, celebrations, antics, he is about one thing: winning. The San Francisco Niners defense would not be the best in the NFL if it wasn't for big number 94. The guy single handily shuts down opposing running games. Why do you think Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman are two of the best linebackers in the NFL?
Yeah, Justin Smith.
The guy takes on double teams like he is Michael Jordan. You can't stop him no matter how many guys try and stop him. On my radio show, "Poff Poff Pass" (Every Monday on KSFS radio at 12 PM PT, http://ksfsmedia.net/radio/) we do a "He's A Beast" segment every week and if you looked up the word beast in the dictionary this is what you would find: Justin Smith.
Now to the other Smith, Aldon Smith. He is coming off a 5.5 sack performance against the Chicago Bears. He also forced two fumbles on Monday night. Jason Campbell just woke up from his nap dreaming about number 99. No one has ever had more sacks in a game in MNF history than Aldon Smith.
He leads the NFL with 15 sacks and has had 29 sacks in 26 games to start his NFL career. He is on pace to set a new NFL record. Reggie White (31) and Derrick Thomas (30) are the only two players to record at least 30 sacks throughout their first two seasons. I think it is safe to say Aldon Smith will break that record, and he might do it on Sunday.
Only DeMarcus Ware has more sacks than Smith since the start of last year. And, Ware has played one more game than Smith because the Cowboys played on Thanksgiving. Smith is tied with Allen with 29 sacks since the start of the 2011 season and Ware has 29.5.
If the Smith brother's show up on Sunday expect them to wreak havoc all day. There might not be a better combo than Aldon and Justin Smith. Justin Smith does all the things that don't show up on the stat sheet, while Aldon Smith takes advantage of the dirty work his brother from another mother is doing.
Aldon Smith will break Reggie White's record for most sacks through two seasons this week in the "Big Easy" and record two sacks against Drew Brees. Justin Smith will show why he is one of the best kept secrets in the NFL and make Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman and Aldon Smith's job that much easier on Sunday.
The Saint's have been one of the hottest teams in the NFL, but too bad they run into the most physical team in the NFL on Sunday. The Niners will utilize their well-balanced offensive attack against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. San Francisco enters Sunday as the best rushing attack in the NFL and they are lining up against the worst rush defense. Expect a big day for everyone on the Niners offense, especially Frank Gore and the rushing attack. It is pretty clear that Gore will have a big game, but if these other three keys fall into San Francisco's lap, expect an easy win in the "Big Easy" for the San Francisco 49ers.
PREDICTION: SAN FRANCISCO 31 NEW ORLEANS 20
Where To Watch Online: Saints vs. 49ers