Saints could be first team in NFL history with no turnovers through five games

METAIRIE, La. -- If the New Orleans Saints don’t turn the ball over Sunday against the Detroit Lions, they will become the first team in NFL history with no turnovers in the first five games of a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

And I already know what you’re thinking: “Don’t jinx it!”

But this isn’t like staying away from a pitcher during a no-hitter. In fact, Saints quarterback Drew Brees said it’s quite the opposite when it comes to preaching ball security. They talk about it all the time.

“Listen, it’s a big emphasis,” Brees said. “We talk about it every game. It’s the No. 1 key to victory every time we go into a game -- if you can take care of the football and end up on the plus side of the turnover ratio, you give yourself a much better chance to win.

“You still dial up the plays and play aggressive, you still take shots when you can. But also I think it’s just understanding when it’s OK to take a chance and then maybe when it’s OK to just make sure the ball stays in your hands. You can’t paralyze yourself, but I think it’s just smart football.”

The Saints (2-2) would seem to be one of the most unlikely teams to make this kind of history since they have such an aggressive offense, rather than a team that wins through ball control and defense.

They have generally been decent in that area during the Brees-Sean Payton era. But they haven’t been great during their string of three straight 7-9 seasons. Their 74 turnovers over the past three years (24.7 per season) are tied for the 13th most in the NFL over that span.

So Brees admitted he was surprised to hear last week that the Saints became just the third team ever to play without a turnover in the first four games of the season (along with the 1995 Rams and 2013 Titans).

“Yeah, I was surprised,” Brees said. “But, listen, that’s good company to be in.”

To keep the streak alive, the Saints will have to do it against an opportunistic Lions defense that ranks third in the NFL this year with 11 takeaways.

“This is a team we’re getting ready to play that’s taken it away a lot in just a short amount of time,” said Payton, who admitted the Saints had some luck on their side in Week 4 against the Miami Dolphins in London.

“Hopefully we’re doing a better job overall as a point of emphasis. Now, last game in London, we tried (to turn it over). We didn’t have any but we certainly tried,” Payton said of some miscues with the snap and one pass he said that was almost intercepted. “But hopefully the point of emphasis of ball security (has made a difference).”

Brees also had a pass bounce right off the chest of linebacker Luke Kuechly at Carolina in Week 3. So he admitted that, yes, “there’s a little bit” of luck involved with a streak like this.

“But there’s plenty of times in my career where I’ve had bad luck,” Brees said with a chuckle. “So I guess it all equals out in the end.”