Saints passing game rises to top of NFL rankings

For the first time this season, the Saints rank first in the NFL in passing yards — a position they’re used to being in since the arrival of Sean Payton and Drew Brees in 2006.

The Saints, who led the league in passing in 2006, 2008 and 2011, climbed two spots from third a week ago after throwing for 351 net yards in Sunday night’s 31-24 victory over the San Diego Chargers.

After five games, the Saints are averaging 326.8 passing yards per game and are fifth in total yards with at 402.0 yards a game. The bad news is that they rank 28th in rushing with just 75.2 yards per game.

Defensively, they still rank last in the league in total yards (456.0) and rushing yards (172.8) and are 29th against the pass (283.2).

Here are the pertinent numbers for the Saints as they enjoy their bye week and Tampa Bay Bucs, whom they play on Oct. 21 (NFL rank in parentheses):

SAINTS

Offense: Total yards, 402.0 (5); rushing, 75.2 (28); passing, 326.8 (1); scoring, 28.2 (7).

Defense: Total yards, 456.0 (32); rushing, 172.8 (32); passing, 283.2 (29); scoring, 30.8 (29).

BUCCANEERS

Offense: Total yards, 276.0 (30); rushing, 91.0 (23); passing, 185.0 (29); scoring, 20.5 (20).

Defense: Total yards, 419.0 (27); rushing, 73.8 (4); passing, 345.3 (32); scoring, 22.8 (t18).