So what, exactly, is the problem? Offensively, the Saints run the ball more effectively in the second half, but that is mostly by design. And they take more sacks in the first half (10 vs. 3), but that follows the pass-early/run-late mold.
If we're going to point a finger, let's make it two. On offense Drew Brees needs to cool his opening-half jitters. The logical midseason MVP has thrown seven of his nine interceptions in the first half. The more likely villain rests on defense, especially along a front that has suffered during the recent absence of defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis. In first halves, when teams are still in it and running the ball, opponents are averaging over five yards per carry and have scored nine rushing touchdowns.
This week, a slow start could be particularly devastating against a Patriots team that has outscored opponents 62-10 in the first frames of its past six contests and that leads the league in both first-quarter (71) and second-quarter points (125).