But the last two weeks have been as bad as it's ever been defensively in Oakland. Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin ran for 251 yards in a 42-32 win two weeks ago. That was followed by the drubbing in Baltimore when Joe Flacco picked the Raiders apart for 341 yards and three touchdowns as the Ravens matched the most points ever allowed by the Raiders.
"I know the team that we're going to face is not the team that gave up 55 points last week or 42 points against Tampa," Brees said.
"It's a play here, it's a play there, it's a big play here, a big play there that can typically affect the outcome of a game. This defense has a lot of very talented players on it. They have played very, very well at times. I know that, for us, we're going to have to play our best game and worry about our execution, and that's what we're focused on."
That Oakland is struggling so much on defense comes as a bit of a surprise for the Saints, who know Oakland first-year coach Dennis Allen so well. Allen spent five years as a defensive assistant in New Orleans, helping the team win the Super Bowl following the 2009 season as defensive backs coach.
After spending one year as defensive coordinator in Denver the 40-year-old Allen got his first head coaching gig this year in Oakland.
"He deserves it, man," Saints safety Roman Harper said. "He's a great coach. He understands everything it takes to win and I know he'll get those guys going. They've had some ups and downs but at the end of the day that's going to happen, especially when you're a new coach somewhere. He's going to have them just fine though."
Allen coached four years in Atlanta before joining Payton's first staff on the Saints in 2006. He credited that experience with getting him to where he is now.
"I started coaching in the NFL in Atlanta, but I grew up in the NFL in New Orleans," he said. "I got a lot of good memories there, and we were able to win a championship. So it was a big part of my development as a coach."
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in Metairie, La., contributed to this report
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