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Brees sees what old team has been up to

Drew Brees readily admits keeping tabs on the San Diego Chargers, the team that let him walk in free agency.

The reasons for that started with old friendships and a quirk in scheduling that had both teams watching film on each other because they’ve played some similar opponents. They have since expanded to include the fact that both teams are thinking Super Bowl and that one of Brees’ good friends in San Diego, running back LaDainian Tomlinson, is among the challengers to the Saints quarterback’s candidacy for league MVP.

Brees leads the NFL in passing yardage with 4,033 and has helped the Saints (9-4) get within one victory of winning the NFC South.

Tomlinson is a close second in NFL rushing yards with 1,427, leading a San Diego squad that already has clinched a playoff spot at 11-2.

Brees had thrown for 25 touchdowns. Tomlinson has rushed for 24 and thrown for two others on halfback passes.

“It’s kind of ironic and kind of funny, but it’s kind of neat at the same time, because I spent five years with L.T. in San Diego,” Brees said. “He’s a special guy. We’re real good friends. We work out together some in the offseason. We kind of talked about a scenario like this happening and here we are.”

Brees said he and Tomlinson were always competitive and pushed one another in San Diego.

“With me coming here and him being there, it was still one of those things where we have said we will be watching each other,” Brees said. “We expect the best from each other.”

Saints coach Sean Payton said he would not want to have to pick between Brees and Tomlinson, but he certainly supports Brees’ candidacy, particularly in light of the fact that Brees is coming back from offseason throwing-shoulder surgery.

“The challenge, which I believe is better discussed among (the media), is that I don’t know how you start comparing a quarterback to a running back,” Payton said.

Brees is “playing awfully well,” Payton said. “That consistency, his ability to make good decisions and to protect the football gives us a chance on offense. When it comes down to the league MVP, certainly he’s one of the candidates and deservedly so.”

With New Orleans currently holding the No. 2 seed in the NFC and San Diego No. 1 in the AFC, a meeting in the Super Bowl, which might have seemed unlikely when the season began, is now a possibility.

“We’d love to be in the big dance at the end, just like they would. If we’re playing each other, wouldn’t that be something?” Brees mused.

“I talk to a lot of the guys on that team, because I’m very close to them and follow them,” Brees said. “We both played the AFC North this year, so we have similar opponents. You end up watching their film. It’s hard not to think about what’s going on over there.”