Shutdown Corner - NFL

On an ordinary day, predicting a matchup of the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins would seem to be a no-brainer. The 'Skins are an overpaid, underachieving, horribly-managed team, while the Saints are coming off a mini-Mardi Gras at home last Monday night, when they decimated the Patriots in the most complete victory so far in their 11-0 season. But Washington gets the Saints at home, not in a done, and that might be their saving grace. The nation's capital saw a Winter Weather Advisory yesterday and 2-4 inches of snow in most metro areas, and the forecast for this afternoon shows some melting of that white stuff, but still cold in the low 40s.

If there's one thing that can stop Drew Brees(notes), it's Mother Nature. Through 11 games this season, Brees has completed 154 of 213 passes (72.3%) for 2,149 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions indoors. Outside, he's been far more mortal -- 82 of 130 (63.1%) for 968 yards, seven scores and four picks. He's averaging almost three more yards per attempt indoors (10.09 to 7.45), and he's been sacked nine times outdoors to five indoors despite many more attempts under a roof.

This is good news for the Redskins' effective (but big-play prone) defense. On a clean field and weather not a factor, Brees and the Saints would tear Washington up with their supernatural timing and multiple route combinations. When they take the field at FedEx, you may see more running with Pierre Thomas(notes) and Mike Bell(notes), though the challenge will be to block Albert Haynesworth(notes), who is expected to play today. On defense, New Orleans will be challenged by a Washington offense which has actually seen statistical improvement since implementing their playcalling-by-committee system.

This is more than a trap game for the Saints. The Redskins are out of the playoff hunt, and the trucks will be backing up to HQ once again when the season is over, but the Saints are facing two spirited opponents today -- and only one of them is the weather.

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