The New Orleans Saints suffered perhaps the most painful ending to a season imaginable last year. After starting the season 0-2, the Saints rattled off eight wins in a row, eventually finishing 11-5 and winning the ultra-competitive NFC South. The Saints took care of Carolina in the wild-card round and were one play away from the NFC Championship Game when the Vikings won on a miracle ending. Well, it wasn’t so much a miracle for the Saints but rather a devastating way to see such a promising season come to an end.
However, after being a Super Bowl contender a year ago, the Saints are poised to be a serious contender again in 2018. The core of last year’s team remains in place, most notably quarterback Drew Brees, who would love to win a second Super Bowl ring before he retires. The return of Brees and a solid supporting cast should make the Saints a threat to win the Super Bowl.
The oddsmakers list the Saints at +1900 odds to win the Super Bowl. There is incredible value in those odds. Remember, many would have fancied the Saints to beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game last year, so there should be little doubt that New Orleans is capable of reaching that stage in the season again. The Saints are also projected to win 9.5 games in 2018. This is less enticing considering the strength of the NFC South. However, the Saints have incredibly upside so going the over on this could be worthwhile.
The key for the Saints, of course, is Brees. At age 39, he’s shown few signs of aging, evidenced by his record-setting 72% completion percentage last year. He has the incomparable Michael Thomas as his favorite target and the ageless Ted Ginn as a deep threat. Receiver depth behind those two could be an issue if Cam Meredith doesn’t come back healthy from a serious knee injury. However, Brees can still do a lot of damage with Thomas and Ginn.
Even if the Saints lack depth at wide receiver, they have two quality options in the backfield. Mark Ingram rushed for over 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, so he should be reliable once he returns from a four-game suspension. New Orleans also has an emerging star in Alvin Kamara. He proved dangerous as both a runner and receiver last season and gives the Saints another great playmaker.
Defensively, the Saints were fairly average a season ago, but they may have some room for improvement. Cameron Jordan is one of the best defensive linemen in football. He’ll anchor a defensive line that’s a little deeper after the Saints drafted Marcus Davenport. There is also plenty of depth at linebacker and some emerging stars in the secondary. Marshon Lattimore looks like a shutdown corner for many years to come. Meanwhile, Marcus Williams and Vonn Bell could turn into one of the best young safety tandems in the league.
Obviously, the Saints would prefer to get a little more from their defense than they did last season. But with Brees leading the offense, the Saints should be one of the highest-scoring teams in the league. As long as Brees has one more good season in him, New Orleans has a chance to win the NFC South and make a serious run at the Super Bowl.
|Sep 9||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1:00 PM|
|Sep 16||Cleveland Browns||1:00 PM|
|Sep 23||@ Atlanta Falcons||1:00 PM|
|Sep 30||@ New York Giants||4:25 PM|
|Oct 8||Washington Redskins||8:15 PM|
|Oct 21||@ Baltimore Ravens||4:05 PM|
|Oct 28||@ Minnesota Vikings||8:20 PM|
|Nov 4||Los Angeles Rams||4:25 PM|
|Nov 11||@ Cincinnati Bengals||1:00 PM|
|Nov 18||Philadelphia Eagles||1:00 PM|
|Nov 22||Atlanta Falcons||8:20 PM|
|Nov 29||@ Dallas Cowboys||8:20 PM|
|Dec 9||@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1:00 PM|
|Dec 17||@ Carolina Panthers||8:15 PM|
|Dec 23||Pittsburgh Steelers||4:25 PM|
|Dec 30||Carolina Panthers||1:00 PM|
With two games against the Panthers and two games against the Falcons, New Orleans will play eight games against playoff teams. That list includes a return trip to Minnesota and home games against the Rams, Eagles, and Steelers. But if the Saints can split those eight games, winning at least 10 games and getting back in the playoffs should be a realistic goal.
Playing in the NFC South will make things difficult, which is why their Super Bowl odds are lower than you might think. However, as long as New Orleans makes the playoffs, they have the talent to beat any team they play and become serious Super Bowl contenders.