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New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) celebrates a sack of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) in the second half of an NFL Wild Card Playoff game in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018.

The New Orleans Saints defense is finally out of the cellar. 

Sparked by a young, big-play secondary and led by Dennis Allen's aggressive, attacking scheme, the Saints made big strides against the pass, making life so difficult on opposing passers that New Orleans ranked seventh in the NFL in passer rating allowed, the team's highest finish in that important statistic since the 2009 Super Bowl run.

And led by Cameron Jordan's All-Pro season, the Saints put quarterbacks on their backs over and over again.

There are places the Saints can improve, though. For example, New Orleans took a step back against the run, dropping from 15th in the league in yards per carry allowed all the way to 28th. 

New Orleans also struggled to get off the field on third down, finishing 27th in the NFL, a statistic that's awfully tough to square with their otherwise stellar performance against the pass. 

SCORING

2013: 4th, 19.0 points per game

2014: 28th, 26.5 ppg

2015: 32nd, 29.8 ppg

2016: 31st, 28.4 ppg

2017: 10th, 20.4 ppg

TOTAL YARDS

2013: 4th, 305.7 yards per game

2014: 31st, 384.0 ypg

2015: 31st, 413.4 ypg

2016: 27th, 375.4 ypg

2017: 17th, 336.4 ypg

YARDS PER PLAY

2013: 10th, 5.19 yards per play

2014: 31st, 6.01 ypp

2015: 32nd, 6.64 ypp

2016: 30th, 5.96 ypp

2017: 22nd, 5.37 ypp

RUSHING YARDS

2013: 19th, 111.6 yards per game

2014: 29th, 132.8 ypg

2015: 31st, 129.4 ypg

2016: 14th, 101.6 ypg

2017: 16th, 111.7 ypg

YARDS PER CARRY

2013: 28th, 4.61 yards per carry

2014: 31st, 4.81 ypc

2015: 32nd, 4.92 ypc

2016: 15th, 4.11 ypc

2017: 28th, 4.4 ypc

RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS

2013: t-11th, 11

2014: t-28th, 17

2015: t-20th, 12

2016: t-28th, 19

2017: t-13th, 11

PASSING YARDS

2013: 2nd, 194.1 yards per game

2014: 25th, 251.2 ypg

2015: 31st, 284.0 ypg

2016: 32nd, 273.8 ypg

2017: 15th, 224.8 ypg

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE

2013: t-15th, 60.0 percent

2014: 15th, 62.5 percent

2015: 31st, 68.4 percent

2016: t-26th, 64.9 percent

2017: 9th, 59.4 percent

YARDS PER ATTEMPT

2013: 9th, 6.12 yards per attempt

2014: 27th, 7.36 ypa

2015: 32nd, 8.35 ypa

2016: 30th, 7.53 ypa

2017: 18th, 7.0 ypa

PASSING TOUCHDOWNS

2013: 6th, 20

2014: t-17th, 26

2015: 32nd, 45 (NFL record)

2016: t-20th, 27

2017: t-12th, 22

INTERCEPTIONS

2013: 22nd, 2.37 percent of attempts, 12 overall

2014: 23rd, 2.20 percent of attempts, 12 overall

2015: 27th, 1.65 percent of attempts, 9 overall

2016: 27th, 1.55 percent of attempts, 9 overall

2017: 3rd, 3.61 percent of attempts, 20 overall

QUARTERBACK RATING

2013: 14th, 83.6 rating

2014: 24th, 92.9 rating

2015: 32nd, 116.2 rating (NFL record)

2016: 29th, 98.1 rating

2017: 7th, 79.0 rating

SACKS

2013: 4th, 9.66 percent of attempts, 49 overall

2014: 23rd, 6.23 percent of attempts, 34 overall

2015: 27th, 5.70 percent of attempts, 31 overall

2016: 27th, 5.15 percent of attempts, 30 overall

2017: 8th, 7.58 percent of attempts, 42 overall

FIRST DOWNS

2013: 1st, 17.1 first downs per game

2014: 28th, 21.6 first downs per game

2015: 32nd, 23.8 first downs per game

2016: t-27th, 22.1 first downs per game

2017: 15th, 19.3 first downs per game

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS

2013: 9th, 34.67 percent

2014: 31st, 46.05 percent

2015: 22nd, 40.34 percent

2016: 28th, 43.30 percent

2017: 27th, 41.04 percent

RED-ZONE PERCENTAGE

2013: 18th, 56.52 percent

2014: 30th, 62.75 percent

2015: 32nd, 67.69 percent

2016: 23rd, 57.14 percent

2017: 14th, 52.08 percent

TURNOVERS FORCED

2013: 29th, 19 (12 interceptions, 7 fumbles recovered)

2014: 28th, 17 (12 interceptions, 5 fumbles recovered)

2015: t-18th, 22 (9 interceptions, 13 fumbles recovered)

2016: t-17th, 21 (9 interceptions, 12 fumbles recovered)

2017: t-9th, 25 (20 interceptions, 5 fumbles recovered)

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.