Some thoughts from watching the Saints beat the Falcons 35-27 last night ...
. While I saw nothing to change my mind that the Saints are the best team in the league, I did see plenty that makes me think they wouldn't want to face the Vikings in the playoffs.
. Namely, it was New Orleans' inability to stop running back Michael Turner, who ran for 151 yards on 20 carries for a 7.6-yard average. A couple of times, our old pal Darren Sharper appeared to want no part in tackling Turner. He was in position to make one of those undercut tackles that the great safeties -- or Antoine Winfield -- routinely makes. But Sharper wouldn't leave his feet. The one time, Sharper came up, paused and then basically ran alongside Turner into the end zone. Darren did, however, come up with his seventh pick of the season later on.
. Turner is a good, dependable, strong back. But he's not Adrian Peterson. Peterson could punish the Saints' defense.
. My predictions have taken a beating in recent weeks. But the one about the Saints -- who, btw, were 8-8 last season -- reaching the Super Bowl looks good -- so far. So does my NFC title game -- Vikings at Saints.
. Drew Brees is as close to perfection as a quarterback can get. He never seems to throw a ball that isn't perfectly placed. He knows the offense so well that he's able to run it at such a rapid pace. I'm afraid he'd treat your beloved Vikes the way he used to treat the Gophers back when he was at Purdue. The only chance the Vikings would have is if the defensive line got to Brees quickly and often. They'd also have to control the ball with Peterson.
. I love the Saints' running attack with Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell. I don't quite understand why Reggie Bush can't get more carries. He has only 47 on the season. But the differing styles of the shifty Thomas and the sledgehammering Bell is impressive. The Saints should throw in more of Reggie to make it even harder to prepare for.
. Watching that change-of-pace backfield approach makes me wonder if the Vikings might need to look for a third running back after the season. Give themselves someone with a different style than Peterson and Chester Taylor.
. I think the Falcons earned some respect, even in defeat. They showed early on that they're capable of trading scores with the Saints. They can run the ball and Matt Ryan is an emerging star. This is the first time in his 23-game career that he's lost back-to-back games.
. We have a long way to go, but if the Vikings and Saints got the top two seeds in the NFC and ended up playing in New Orleans in the title game, the Saints would overwhelm the Vikings in a high scoring game. If the Vikings are able to get the No. 1 seed and make it to the NFC title game at home against New Orleans, it probably would go the other way if the defensive line got to Brees.