Drew Brees is a shining example of the law of truly large numbers at work.
Put simply, the law states that with a large enough sample size, the improbable is likely to happen. Get enough people to purchase lottery tickets and someone will come up a winner no matter how long the odds.
Just don't bet on it being you.
Similarly, get enough quarterbacks over time and some outrageous numbers will emerge. Brees is that outlier, that off-the-charts gunslinger who puts up truly large, scary-looking numbers season after season.
How to best illustrate the level at which he operates? In nine years with the Saints, Brees has attempted and completed more passes, thrown for more yards and more touchdowns than every one of the 31 teams not located in the Big Easy.
Pick a team and Brees has outproduced it. The Broncos? He's in the lead by more than 550 attempts. The Patriots? He's out front by 21 TD passes.
The Browns, Jets, Raiders, Rams and Titans you say? Brees has thrown twice as many TD passes as each of those teams in the years since 2006.
Brees is a singular talent.
On Sunday the Packers have the pleasure of trying to defend this most prolific of passers – and in his own backyard, no less. It's an assignment Peter Graves in "Mission Impossible" might have turned down.
Brees' name turns up no fewer than 18 times in the passing section of the NFL record book. He'd be there at least once more if the Elias Sports Bureau would climb into the 21st century and recognize players with the most consecutive 4,000 yard passing seasons.
Brees began his career with the Chargers in 2001. For five seasons he posted respectable numbers, never throwing for more than 27 TDs (2004) or 3,576 yards (2005).
Once in New Orleans where he joined forces with offensive guru and head coach Sean Payton, he took flight. Since 2006, he's thrown for more than 4,000 yards eight seasons running and has tossed more than 30 TD passes in each of the last six seasons.
His work in New Orleans has been prodigious: 3,534 completions in 5,235 attempts for 40,649 yards and 294 TDs. The second-place human in each of these categories is Peyton Manning (2,937), Eli Manning (4,479), Philip Rivers (34,434) and Peyton Manning (269).
Invariably, some will note that Peyton Manning (out the entire 2011 season with a neck injury) and Tom Brady (out most of 2008 with a torn ACL) would be closer to Brees' totals had they been healthy. True, but that argument also serves to shine a light on Brees' durability.
Though relatively small at a height listed as six feet, Brees shows up on game day. He has missed but one of 134 regular-season starts for New Orleans.
It is easy to get lost in a sea of numbers when discussing Brees. But three aspects of his career with the Saints might come into play in Sunday night's game.
First, he has been more efficient and successful at home than on the road since 2008. His rating in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (111.1) is noticeably higher than his rating on the road (90.9). His won-loss record there (39-11) is better than what he manages in other venues (26-25).
Second, Brees could easily throw for 300 yards. He's reached or exceeded that total 75 times.
Third, though he's 51-24 in those outings, he's more deadly when he piles up yards in combination with a no-pick hat trick. Brees is 21-2 when he throws for 300 or more yards, three or more TD passes and no interceptions.
Interestingly, his two losses came against the Packers. Green Bay beat the Saints 42-34 in the 2011 season opener despite 419 yards and three TDs from Brees. A year later, they squeaked by 28-27 even though Brees had 446 yards and three TDs.
At home, Brees is 15-0. He's never lost a regular-season game in New Orleans in which he has had a 300-yard, no-pick hat trick.
The Packers haven't intercepted Brees in his last 163 pass attempts. They haven't held him to fewer than three TD passes since 2006.
Green Bay's challenge: prevent Brees from posting truly large numbers.
Overall: Green Bay leads 16-7
At the Superdome: tied 5-5
Packers: Aaron Rodgers (63-31 overall; 2-1 vs. New Orleans)
Saints: Drew Brees (112-79; 2-3 vs. Green Bay)
Once a Saint, now a Packer
There are no former Saints on the Packers' roster.
Once a Packer, now a Saint
There are no former Packers on the Saints' roster.
It's a Brees!
The number of TD passes Drew Brees has thrown since 2006, and the totals for the teams with the most over the same span.
No Player or Team
294 Drew Brees