Saints-Patriots matchup defined by mutual respect
METAIRIE, La. (AP) -- Sean Payton and Drew Brees for years have referred to New England as a model NFL franchise.
During the buildup to New Orleans' game at the Patriots on Sunday, both clubs have showered one another with expressions of mutual respect while acknowledging their similarities.
It starts with two of the game's most successful coaches, the philosophies they share, and the close relationship each has forged with elite quarterbacks who are the faces of their franchises and unquestioned leaders in the locker room.
Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich has played for both teams. He says New England coach Bill Belichick's emphasis on tough, smart football, and the trust he places in quarterback Tom Brady resembles what he saw earlier in his career in New Orleans with Payton and Brees.