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The Early Lead
Posted at 08:45 AM ET, 11/29/2011

Drew Brees continues his pursuit of Dan Marino; should the Packers fear the Saints?

The only thing that didn’t work for Drew Brees on Monday night was the crossbar slam dunk.

“I was a little more tired than I thought I would be,” Brees said of legs that only half-heartedly complied with his “elevate, elevate” command after an 8-yard touchdown scramble. “I do apologize to MJ.”

So he’s no Michael Jordan. So what? At this point, he has Dan Marino in his sights, and Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in his rear-view mirror.

Drew Brees, Superman. (Bill Haber / AP)
Brees passed for 363 yards (24 of 38) and four touchdowns to go with his rushing TD in the Saints’ 49-24 victory over the New York Giants. He leads NFL quarterbacks with 3,689 yards passing (with Brady second and Rodgers third) and is on pace to finish with 5,366 — which would obliterate Marino’s 1984 record of 5,084. In fact, he, Brady and Rodgers could all top 5,000 yards. Brees also has passed for at least one touchdown in 38 straight games, which is the second-longest streak in NFL history.

This is familiar terrain for Brees, who fell 15 yards short of Marino’s record in 2008. This year, he’s well ahead of that pace, but he he swears it isn’t really on his mind.

“I try not to give it much thought,” Brees told’s Jeff Duncan last week. “We would love to have that record, but within the framework of winning games. I certainly try not to think about it. You just try to do whatever it takes to win and if that means we have to throw it three hundred plus yards a game or run it two hundred plus yards a game, we'll do whatever it takes and we'll see where the chips fall at the end of the season.”

The Saints are 8-3, with a three-game winning streak and a statement win over the Giants. They’re Mark Maske’s second-rated NFC team, No. 4 overall in his power rankings. They would seem to be the most likely NFC team to challenge the undefeated Green Bay Packers — which takes us back to what still might be the best game of the season. In the NFL opener Sept. 8, the Packers stopped the Saints with a goal-line stand on the final play of the game and won 42-34.

Right now, which NFC team do you think is most likely to challenge the Packers?

By  |  08:45 AM ET, 11/29/2011

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