W2W4: Bengals at Saints

After losing at home for the first time in 12 games last week, the New Orleans Saints (4-5) will try to start a new streak today against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Bengals, meanwhile, will try to reverse a disastrous road trend. They have been outscored a combined 70-17 in their past two road games, at New England and Indianapolis.

Here is What 2 Watch 4:

Lewis vs. Green: Hopefully for the sake of the viewers (not to mention the teams), Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis and Bengals receiver A.J. Green will be close to full speed after battling recent knee and toe injuries, respectively. Even at less than full strength, it should be the most tantalizing matchup to watch in this game.

Lewis has quietly been playing at an elite level over the past two seasons since transferring from the Bengals’ rival Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency. And he added to his growing respect last week by limping his way back onto the field after suffering the knee injury and still making some big plays against the San Francisco 49ers.

Green’s emergence as one of the NFL’s elite receivers has been even more noticed. He already has more than 4,000 receiving yards in less than four years, and he has a touchdown catch of 70-plus yards in each of the past three seasons. Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro called Green the most complete receiver in the NFL.

Brees vs. Dalton: This one is a much more decisive mismatch. But quarterbacks Drew Brees and Andy Dalton have a lot to prove this week. Brees was actually booed by the home fans last week after two first-half interceptions. And his 12 turnovers this season have been a huge cause for the Saints’ 4-5 start -- although he has played at a very high level otherwise (he also threw three TD passes in the 27-24 overtime loss to the 49ers, for instance).

Dalton, meanwhile, had a disastrous performance last week with a 2.0 passer rating in a loss to the Cleveland Browns that included three interceptions and zero touchdowns. Over the past four games, Dalton has two TD passes and six interceptions and a 52.3 completion percentage, which is the worst in the NFL according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Finish! Even if the Saints dominate for the first 56 minutes, they will need to make sure they don’t blow it in the final four. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Saints have allowed 37 points in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter this season -- the most in the NFL. And all 37 have come in the Saints’ five losses.

Worse, the Saints were actually leading four of those games with under two minutes left in regulation.

The Saints went on to lose all four of those games by three points or less. No other team has lost more than two games by that margin this season.