You see the title. The New Orleans Saints are primed for a Super Bowl run, and here is why they will get it done this year.
1) The schedule is friendly
Before any dreams of a Lombardi Trophy can be had, the New Orleans Saints have to make the playoffs. The regular season schedule sets up favorably for the Saints to do so. Based on last year’s records, the cumulative win percentage of the Saints’ regular season opponents this season is tied for the 8 easiest lowest.
Looking deeper into it, the Saints play all their toughest games at home including bouts with the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. And speaking of the 49ers, their schedule is the 4th toughest; their NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks have the 6th toughest.
Having said all that, the Saints are set up nicely to claim home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If that’s the case, the Saints will be favored in every playoff game and will have the fast track to the Super Bowl.
2) The NFC South is down
The number one goal going into every season is to win the division. For as competitive as the NFC South has been, the Saints are better than their three divisional foes. The Atlanta Falcons went 4-12 last season. They are definitely better than a 4 win team. They have made improvements to their offensive and defensive lines, but the changes aren’t significant enough to suggest they are a 10 win team. The Falcons will be better, but once again, the Saints are better.
Last year’s division winning Carolina Panthers have taken a step backwards this offseason. Cam Newton had ankle surgery and injured his ribs in the preseason. In addition, he lost 4 of his top targets from last season and his Pro Bowl left tackle. Their defense will be top flight again this year, but will that be enough to support an offense that was 26th last year and has possibly gotten worse?
Lastly, there are the Tampa Bay Bucs. They have made wholesale improvements with Lovie Smith at coach. They added dynamic players like Mike Evans and Alteraun Verner. Their defense is stout with players like Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy. However, it is hard to tell how good the Bucs will be with perennial backup quarterback Josh McCown leading the way. They will be better than last year, but even so, it is difficult to bet on a team that has only made the playoffs twice since 2002.
3) The running game will be better
In the Saints’ two most successful seasons (2009 and 2011), their rushing offense was ranked sixth. They are looking to get back to that level this season, and it has shown.
The Saints have switched to a zone blocking scheme which caters to the strengths of Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson. Also, they have tried to simplify the run game by eliminating a portion of the plays that were not successful last season.
If the preseason is any indication, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson are poised for nice seasons. Ingram averaged over 7 yards a carry while Robinson average around 5. What was more telling was the play calling, which was noticeably more balanced. Last time the Saints won the Super Bowl, they were just as potent rushing as they were passing. If they can keep a similar formula, they may achieve the same result.
4) The defense will be better
Last year, the defense ranked 4th in the league under Rob Ryan after being the worst defense ever. The game is played on the field and not paper, but until the on the field product is presented, paper is all we have. Logic would tell me that a defense ranked 4th that adds a perennial All Pro safety like Jairus Byrd is likely to get better.
The combination of Rafael Bush, Byrd, and Kenny Vaccaro is a significant upgrade over last year’s Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins duo. In addition, this is the first time in 4 years where the Saints will be running the same defensive system in consecutive years; this is especially invaluable to young players like Cam Jordan, Junior Galette, and Akiem Hicks who are all looking to build off of their breakout seasons. It is hard to convince even the biggest Saints’ fan (me) that the Saints will be better than Seattle, San Francisco, or Carolina on defense, but if they are even a little bit better than last season, that will be enough for Sean Payton’s high powered offense.
5) Drew Brees
Captain Obvious speaking here. Drew Brees is really good at football. This goes without saying, but the title of the article is why the Saints will win the Super Bowl. If they achieve this goal, it will be because of Mr. Brees. He has been the Saints’ driving force since 2006 and there is no reason for him to drop off now. Brees’ arsenal has been reloaded with Brandin Cooks, a more experienced Kenny Stills, a healthy Jimmy Graham, a healthy Joe Morgan etc. Brees will throw around 5000 yards and 35 plus touchdowns bringing joy to New Orleans and fantasy owners everywhere.