Week 11 may see one of the toughest matchup that the Cincinnati Bengals face this year, amid the New England game in the beginning of the season and the Denver matchup still to come. That's because Week 11 has the Bengals traveling to New Orleans to take on the Saints.
The Saints have been an annual playoff team the last several years, and are widely considered one of the most dangerous teams in both the NFC beside San Fran and Seattle, but also in the NFL.
Even though the team is having an off year, the Saints' weapons are still very dangerous, especially at home. With Drew Brees at quarterback, receivers like Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham and Mark Ingram leading a pack of underrated running backs, New Orleans has an offense that can light up the scoreboard.
That's not to say the Bengals aren't in a similar position, given their situation in the AFC North. However, while the NFC South is arguably the worst division, many consider the AFC North to be the best. All four teams are currently two games above. 500, the first time such a division has done so since the West in 1935.
However, this contest has all the makings of a heartbreak game for Cincinnati. We know that the Bengals will be coming strong off a few extra days of rest, but any football fan will tell you how much the Saints love the comfort of their dome, which seems to have given the team a significant home advantage during these past few years.
Both teams have talent spread across the starting roster. The Saints may have a slight advantage in the running game, but the receiving cores are very similar in talent for both teams – the playmakers are well known by both sides. I'd take Drew Brees over Andy Dalton though, especially in a pressure situation.
Rob Ryan has turned this New Orleans defensive unit and molded it into a formidable, though inconsistent unit, but one the Bengals should be wary of.
Two years ago, I would have given Cincy the talent advantage on that side of the ball, but that's no longer the case. The Bengals' injury-plagued defense has been awful.
It should be a close game, but the fact of the matter is that I've seen Brees pull out way too many fourth quarter wins with the odds stacked against him. At home in the Superdome, I think his offensive will be a little too tough to stop.
A shootout isn't out of the question, if both offenses click quickly. Saints win, 30-26.
How to watch
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
When: 1 p.m. ET
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Evan Washburn
Online streaming: Verizon NFL Mobile
The Saints are 8-point favorites, according to OddsShark, with the over/under set at 51.