The showdown is on Sunday in New Orleans.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is set to return after missing four games due to a rib injury, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported per a source informed of the situation. Coach Sean Payton confirmed the plan is for him to start on Sunday.
Brees took the majority of first-team reps in practice this week, portending his return, Rapoport added, noting that Brees didn’t feel any pain.
Brees’ return pits the future Hall of Fame QB against MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes in a matchup between NFC and AFC powerhouses.
Sunday afternoon’s bout could be a Super Bowl preview.
It was always going to be a big affair, but Brees’ return kicks the matchup up a notch. Even after Brees missed four tilts, expect the QB play to be awesome to behold Sunday.
Mahomes and Brees rank first and second in career passing yards per game. The elder statesman averages 280.3 YPG, while Mahomes is first at 309.5. Mahomes-Brees is the 18th matchup since 1970 between the top two players in career pass YPG (min. 1,500 pass attempts). The last four such games have been Brees versus Matthew Stafford (two wins apiece).
Mahomes (110.0) and Brees (98.7) rank first and fifth in NFL history in career passer rating (min. 1,500 pass attempts).
Taysom Hill steadied the ship in Brees’ absence, going 3-1. The Week 14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, however, showed some warts in the Saints’ plans with Hill under center.
Getting Brees’ back should be a boost for all the Saints’ offensive weapons. Unfortunately, he’ll be without star wideout Michael Thomas, who was ruled out.
The biggest boost for the Saints offense with Brees back should come from Alvin Kamara. The dynamic back’s production waned sans the HOF QB.
Kamara was targeted on just 15.0 percent of routes with Hill starting at QB in Weeks 11-13. That bumped up to 35.7 percent of routes in Week 14 but should go up even higher with Brees’ return.
Kamara was targeted on 36.9 percent of routes with Brees in the lineup from Weeks 1-10, highest in the NFL (minimum 100 routes). Kamara also averaged 7.5 yards per target with Brees, while netting just 3.2 with Hill.
Brees’ return sends Hill back to his utility role as a short-yardage back, blocker, tight end, special team’s ace, and, yes, QB.
Getting Brees back in the lineup adds juice to an already potent N.O.-K.C. bout. Prepare for an entertaining chess match between two of the best teams in the NFL and two of the top QBs of all time.