For one of the few times since Sean Payton took over in 2006, the Saints’ defense is almost ranked higher than their productive offense after two weeks of the NFL season.

After giving up just 273 total yards in a 16-14 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, the Saints’ defense moved up seven more spots to 11th in the latest league stats.

On the other hand, Payton’s perennial top-five offense ranks ninth going into Sunday’s Week 3 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The defense has allowed 320.0 total yards through the first two games. They rank eighth against the pass at 196.0 yards per game, but still have work to do against the run as they rank 27th in giving up 127.0 yards per outing.

The Saints (2-0) also have allowed just 15.5 points per game, which is tied for sixth. Their average includes a touchdown the Saints’ offense gave up in the win against the Bucs, which means the defense has really allowed 12.0 points per game.

The Cardinals (1-1) rank 13th in total offense at 369.0 yards per game under first-year coach Bruce Arians and are 16th in total defense so far in allowing 344.0 yards per game.

The Cardinals have given up just 58.0 yards a game against the run, which ranks third in the league.

Here are the pertinent numbers for Sunday’s game with the Cardinals:


Offense: Total yards, 395.0 (9); rushing, 76.5 (24); passing, 318.5 (5); scoring, 19.5 (23).

Defense: Total yards, 320.0 (11); rushing, 124.0 (27); passing, 196.0 (8); scoring, 15.5 (t6).


Offense: Total yards, 369.0 (13); rushing, 86.5 (21); passing, 282.5 (12); scoring, 24.5 (12).

Defense: Total yards, 344.0 (16); rushing, 58.0 (3); passing, 286.0 (21); scoring, 24.0 (t18).