TAMPA — "I know what the stats say," coach Lovie Smith said about the Saints defense Wednesday. "But the stats are about what has happened in the past. Now, everybody is in this stretch run. I think you see peak performances by everybody about this time of year. We assume we are going to get their best defensively."
Now that we have that caveat out of the way, we can try to illustrate just how bad the Saints defense has been, especially in the past month. You can start by pointing out that the Saints rank last in three of the four major statistical categories — last in scoring defense (31.7 points/game), last in total defense (425.2 yards/game) and last in rushing defense (137.8 yards/game). They're better in pass defense (287.3 yards/game), where they rank 31st out of 32 teams.
The Saints are on course to join the rare 500-point club — only three teams in NFL history have allowed 500 points: the 1966 Giants (1-12-1, hitting the mark in only 14 games), the 1981 Ravens (2-14) and the 2008 Lions, who went 0-16.
In terms of total yards allowed, they're worse, on pace for the second-most in NFL history, trailing only ... the 2012 Saints, who gave up 440 yards per game: 7,042 yards, or more than 4 miles.