Brees and the Saints (2-1) aim to continue their high-scoring ways on Sunday when they visit MetLife Stadium to face the New York Giants (1-2).
The 39-year-old Brees earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the 23rd time in his career after a five-touchdown performance in New Orleans' 43-37 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Brees completed 39 of 49 passes for 396 yards, threw for three scores and added two on the ground -- including one in overtime.
"He's going to be a Hall of Fame quarterback one day. He's going to have a Gold Jacket one day," Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree said in a statement that would generate a collective yawn from even the most aggressive headline writers of the New York-area tabloids.
Trusted wideout Michael Thomas set an NFL record with 38 receptions in his first three games to begin a season. He also leads the league with 398 receiving yards.
"You look Mike in the eye and you believe that he is gonna get open, no matter who's covering him, no matter what the situation," Brees said of the 6-foot-3, 212-pound Thomas. "He just has that mentality. He's got the highest, we call it 'competes.' And he's got the best competes I've ever seen in a guy."
Reigning NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara is enjoying a scintillating start to his sophomore campaign, highlighted by his 15 catches and 190 scrimmage yards (66 rushing, 124 receiving) in Week 3.
"We see (Brees) gets the ball out quick, and his guys get open," Giants safety Landon Collins said. "They know how to catch the ball. I think he kind of gets on their backs about it, and that's what a great quarterback does."
While the Saints reside third in the NFL in scoring (34.7 points per game), the high-octane offense is just a few steps ahead of a generous defense that has surrendered a league-worst 34.3 points per contest.
"Both of these players are outstanding after the ball's in their hands," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "They're very good run-after-the-catch players."
Payton's pass defense has seen plenty of that, as it has permitted 336.7 yards per game through the air. The Saints' rush defense has stepped up, however, as it held the Falcons to just 48 yards on 22 rushes last week.
Barkley is seventh in the NFL with an average of 72.0 rushing yards per game and he's averaging 4.7 yards per carry. The former Penn State star is tied for ninth with 21 catches for 137 yards.
"He's special," Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said of Barkley. "He's 6-foot almost 240 (pounds), a 4.4, 4.3 guy. His contact balance is some of the best I've ever seen, hands out of the backfield, his ability to make guys miss in tight spaces, his ability to always be going forward even when he's going sideways. It's weird.
"Talent-wise, he's definitely one of the best I've ever seen. He's going to be a great back in this league. We just can't allow him to be great on Sunday."
Manning likely will be without Evan Engram, who is considered week-to-week after spraining his MCL versus the Texans. Fellow tight end Rhett Ellison is expected to step right in and contribute, according to head coach Pat Shurmur.
"There's a few little things that you would only do with Evan in there, then there's other things that we'll do with Rhett in there," Shurmur said. "We just tweak it. There's plenty of plays, and we'll just kind of tailor it toward what those guys can do."
Speaking of injuries, the Saints re-signed veteran wide receiver/kick returner Brandon Tate after placing Tommylee Lewis on injured reserve last week.