Commentary

Brees' revival makes Saints NFC's best

Drew Brees has given up his double life, and New Orleans could surpass Green Bay

Originally Published: December 26, 2011
By Chris Sprow | ESPN Insider
Drew Brees/Aaron RodgersUS Presswire/AP PhotoWho is playing better as the season ends? The answer might not be obvious.

Drew Brees was living a double life.

No, it's not anything nefarious, no previously unreported crime sprees. With Brees, it's been purely about quarterbacking, a dual existence playing out right in front of our eyes.

Consider:

• In one life, Brees is a production machine: Since the start of 2010, no quarterback is within 300 yards of Brees' 9,400 passing yards, and only Tom Brady has more touchdown passes, although Brees also would take the lead in that category with a three-spot this week. If you want fantasy stats, even Aaron Rodgers can't top Brees over this period.

• In the other life, Brees has been peddling waste: From the start of 2010 through Week 8 of this season, no quarterback in the NFL could top Brees as a turnover machine. In that 24-game span, Brees was picked off a remarkable 32 times. No other quarterback threw more in that span -- not Eli Manning, not Philip Rivers, not Jay Cutler. Brees was even fumbling, something he did nine times in 2010.

Wandering around in the invincibility cloak bestowed upon recent Super Bowl champions, Brees was efficiently running a nimble operation on one side, Tecmo Passing Numbers LLC, but not paying taxes on his other operation, Turnovers 'R' Us. That's because during that 24-week period, the Saints managed to go a respectable 16-8.

But they could have been much better. Brees got picked off 16 times in those eight losses, and if you look across all th evariables, Brees has been the greatest source of maddening inconsistency. You have the team that batters good competition like the Giants, Steelers and Lions, or turns it over and loses to Tampa, Cleveland and Arizona. And if it continued this way, there's no way the Saints could become the new favorites in the NFC.

But they could be now, because something has happened.