METAIRIE, La. -- Drew Brees is feeling it right now.
You can see it in his numbers, which are the best the New Orleans Saints quarterback has posted since his record-breaking 2011 season.
And you can see it in his throws.
The 37-year-old future Hall of Famer is throwing with a ton of confidence, as he demonstrated with a pair of 32-yard touchdown passes over the past two weeks. Both times he threw into tight windows and let young receivers Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas go up and get 'em.
"I love that, dude. Love that," said another one of Brees' beneficiaries -- receiver Willie Snead, who said Brees is "locked in."
"In that moment [where Brees threw the 32-yard TD pass to Cooks to tie the Denver Broncos with 1:22 remaining last Sunday], you just see that ball in the air and it's like, 'Yes, let's do this,'" Snead said. "Just to have a quarterback that can launch it and trust his receivers, that's a receiver's dream right there."
There was a lot of talk this offseason during Brees' contract discussions with the Saints about when he might start to slow down.
But did anyone think Brees would actually start speeding up at age 37?
Brees has a passer rating of more than 107 in his past five games, something he had never done in his 16-year career. He also is leading the NFL in passing yards for the fifth time in six years -- and he's ahead of his usual pace. His 332 yards per game put him on pace for 5,312, the third-highest total in NFL history and the second-highest total of his career.
He is also on pace for 43 touchdown passes (tied for second in his career) and a 107.0 passer rating (third best of his career).
At this rate, Brees will pass Peyton Manning and Brett Favre for first place in all-time passing yards in less than two seasons and in all-time TD passes in less than three seasons.
"Listen, I feel good right now. I feel good," said Brees, who agreed that this is the healthiest he has felt in at least three years after dealing with oblique, shoulder and foot issues over the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
"I have a good process throughout the week, probably a better process than I've had the last few years ... my routine as far as getting my body mentally, emotionally and physically ready to play each week," Brees said. "I'm playing with a great group of guys on both sides of the ball, this whole team. So I don't focus on anything other than getting myself and my team ready to win each and every week. That's how I measure myself."
Unfortunately the winning part has continued to be a struggle for the Saints, who are 4-5 heading into Thursday night's showdown with the division rival Carolina Panthers (3-6) at Carolina.
But the Saints have been one of the NFL's hottest teams after an 0-3 start. Brees' TD pass to Cooks last week had them in position to win for the fifth time in six games -- before the extra point was blocked and returned for the Broncos' game-winning two-point conversion instead.
Brees had a rough start against Denver, throwing two interceptions in the first half. But he had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in the second half while throwing three TD passes.
If the Saints make a playoff run, Brees should be right in the heart of the league MVP discussion.
"It's hard to distinguish or separate this year from a year ago or two years," Saints coach Sean Payton said when asked if this might be the best Brees has played in five years. "I think he played well last year, and I think the key at this point in the season is us finding ways to win games. But you certainly see his health and his accuracy and you see the mobility, and those are obviously good signs for your starting quarterback."
Analyst Greg Cosell, who breaks down tape for NFL Films and ESPN's NFL Matchup, said he believes Brees is throwing the ball better than he was two years ago -- when he was noticeably struggling with his accuracy at times (later revealing that the oblique and shoulder injuries bothered him more than he let on).
But in general, Cosell said Brees is the same and the Saints are just benefiting from the way they are using their influx of young talent at the receiver positions. Cooks and Snead are in their third seasons, and Thomas is a rookie. All three are flirting with possible 1,000-yard seasons.
"There's nothing really different about Drew -- although it does speak to a quarterback when you have new people and you've gotta work them in through the course of a season, and there's really not a drop-off in production," Cosell said.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera also pointed out the way the Saints are using all of their "explosive" playmakers in the passing game -- including new tight end Coby Fleener.
"And Drew's such a smart guy, he's gonna know how to attack people," Rivera said.
Brees agreed that his young receivers are helping to keep him young, too.
"I've got a lot of confidence in those guys," said Brees, who said those recent highlight TD catches by Thomas and Cooks are "things that we work on. Those are things we talk about.
"They know I've got confidence in 'em. And nothing shows it more than giving them that opportunity in a game. And both of those guys have come up with some huge plays the last two games."
ESPN NFL analyst Herm Edwards said Brees "has a Ph.D. in playing quarterback" after so many years in the NFL, especially so many years with Payton's offensive scheme in New Orleans.
"It's fun to watch Drew Brees playing quarterback," Edwards said.
That's as true now at age 37 as it was when Brees first arrived in New Orleans at age 27.
So much for slowing down.