Saints, Bengals share some interesting connections

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints and Cincinnati Bengals don’t see much of each other, but they have a lot in common.

Saints offensive tackle Zach Strief, a Cincinnati native who grew up as a Bengals season-ticket holder, even pointed out that they spent years running into the same red and gold wall.

“There’s actually a pretty strong parallel to Cincinnati and here in terms of the teams and their successes and the chants ('Who Dat' vs. 'Who Dey') and the team that was the cause of all the woes in the years that we were good and had a chance, and who took that away from us,” Strief said. “The Saints played in the division with the 49ers when they had Joe Montana and Steve Young, and they could never get over that hump. And we went to the Super Bowl twice and lost to Joe Montana in the Super Bowl. So there’s a lot of parallels there.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer also wrote a detailed behind-the-scenes piece on how the two cities battled to land the 16th NFL franchise back in the 1960s, with the Saints beating out the Bengals.

Brees and Dalton: One parallel that hasn’t quite come to fruition yet is the development of fourth-year Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) was compared by some to Saints quarterback Drew Brees coming out of college because he’s a smaller, cerebral quarterback. But so far Dalton has been hit or miss, with three playoff appearances and zero playoff wins.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis mentioned when talking about Brees this week that he tries “to get Andy to emulate Drew all the time.”

When asked how specifically, Lewis said, “The way Drew goes about it as the leader, the leader of the offense, the leader of the team, working through his progressions, how hard he works in practice, even how he enters the huddle and the things he does. It’s what you want from the leader of your team.”

Brees said he has met Dalton only once, during a past Pro Bowl. But he said he admires what he’s seen and heard about the fellow Texas native, saying they have somewhat of a shared background because of their paths through big-time Texas high schools and less high-profile colleges (Brees at Purdue, Dalton at TCU).

“I have a lot of respect of what he’s been able to accomplish and what his team’s been able to accomplish,” Brees said. “I haven’t spent a whole lot of time with him, but from everything I hear, he’s a great young man.”

Payton and Still: Saints coach Sean Payton also established a new bond between the franchises this season when he was moved to buy 100 jerseys in support of Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still, whose daughter is battling pediatric cancer. The two will meet in person for the first time Sunday.

“I think players in our league, people in our league, in a time like that when someone needs help, they really rally around their own people,” Payton said this week of why he was moved by the way the Bengals supported Still through a charitable promotion with his jersey sales. “That was good to see, and it’s still good to see because I’m sure it’s a long fight.”

Bengals news: For all your info on the Bengals this week, check out their team page on ESPN.com and follow ESPN NFL Nation Bengals reporter Coley Harvey on Twitter @ColeyHarvey.