In a 48-7 destruction of the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, the New Orleans Saints made sure everyone remembers that there are three teams with a legitimate claim to being the N.F.L.’s best.
All eyes may be on Monday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams — a rare late-season matchup of one-loss teams — but the Saints’ huge win over Philadelphia, the defending Super Bowl champion, not only let New Orleans keep pace, but gave the team a ninth consecutive win.
It was a blowout nearly from the start. The Saints got a field goal on their first drive, a touchdown on their second, and were leading by 24-7 at halftime, with their offense cruising and their unheralded defense holding Carson Wentz and the Eagles to just 109 yards of offense.
The pace never truly slowed as the Eagles were helpless against a juggernaut Saints offense that has scored 30 or more points seven times during the winning streak, and had at least 45 for a third straight week.
Brees, who passed Peyton Manning earlier this season to become the N.F.L.’s career leader in passing yards, has showed no signs of slowing down. In this laugher at home, he completed 22 of 30 passes for 363 yards and four touchdowns.
Brees now has 513 career touchdown passes, and with New England idle, Brees’s lead over Tom Brady grew to eight in their shared pursuit of Manning’s career record of 539.
Philadelphia’s defensive scheme seemed to mostly consist of trying to slow down Michael Thomas, New Orleans’ superstar wide receiver, but that just resulted in Brees throwing more to Tre’Quan Smith, a rookie who smashed his career-high of three catches by piling up 10 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown.
And even with the added emphasis on Thomas, the receiver was hardly silent, catching all four passes thrown to him for 92 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown early in the third quarter in which he simply outran the coverage.
Almost as an afterthought, New Orleans ran for 173 yards. Mark Ingram led the effort with 103 yards and two touchdowns.
The Saints’ defense, which had struggled early in the season, continued to look like a playoff-caliber unit. New Orleans limited the Eagles to 196 yards of total offense; Wentz threw three interceptions and completed 19 of 33 passes for 156 yards. Philadelphia’s hodgepodge collection of rushers combined for just 58 yards.
The Eagles converted just 3 of 10 third-down opportunities and turned the ball over on downs twice.
New Orleans, which proved itself as one of the N.F.L.’s top contenders with a win over the Rams two weeks ago, will try to stretch its win streak to 10 games with a win at home against Atlanta, and will then head out on a three-game road trip that includes a difficult matchup against Cam Newton and the Panthers in Carolina.