The march to Minneapolis begins tonight… in Minneapolis

new-orleans-saints-wallpaper__400x300I don’t know how many people are picking a team with three straight 7-9 finishes to get to the Super Bowl, but I am. Why not? Follow along with me.

Drew Brees is the most underrated quarterback in the NFL and is still playing at a high level at age 38. Running back Adrian Peterson is 32, but has something to prove.

In 2016, Brees passed for 5,208 yards and 35 touchdowns with just 15 interceptions. That was his best statistical season since 2011. And he didn’t have a defense. In 2015, Peterson’s last full season before 2016’s injury-shortened campaign, he ran for 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns. Pair half that performance with a hungry Mark Ingram and the Saints’ ground game could be the best its been in years, which will take a tremendous amount of pressure off Brees.

The offensive line is a bit of a question mark with rookie first round pick Ryan Ramczyk starting at left tackle in place of the injured Terron Armstead, but if he can protect Brees’ blind side consistently the coaching staff will breathe a big sigh of relief. Center Max Unger must stay healthy and an aging Zach Strief has to continue to play at a high level at right tackle.

A solid and young wide receiver corps, a stronger tight end unit and dynamic rookie running back Alvin Kamara will keep the offense rolling, as usual.

Defensively, if the Saints can be a top 20 unit the win total will incrementally improve. I don’t think that’s asking a lot. Giving up 28 points per game (#31) won’t cut it, but slice that to about 24 points per game (the Raiders did that last season as the #20 defense) and the outlook will be much improved. New Orleans’ D showed flashes in the preseason, but can that carry over to the regular season? Getting after the quarterback will be key, as will the play of rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore.

On special teams, there is nothing to worry about with long time punter Thomas Morstead, and second-year kicker Will Lutz seems to have corrected his low-trajectory kicking problem that led to a number of costly blocks last season. Some games will certainly be decided by his foot this year and it could be the difference between the playoffs and staying home for the fourth-straight postseason.

So again, why not pick the Saints to go to the Super Bowl? The defending champion New England Patriots looked pedestrian in their opening loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and the perennial doormat Jacksonville Jaguars looked like world beaters against the tough Texans defense.

A fast start, as always, is important. The first four games are at the Vikings, the Patriots at the Superdome, at the Panthers and at the Dolphins. If the Saints can survive that stretch at 2-2 or 3-1, they’ll be on their way. 

I think the Saints win tonight, 28-17
I’ll go with 11-5 for the Black and Gold. It’s the beginning of a new season — anything is possible.

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Comments

  1. Still think 11-5 for the Black and Gold or did reality finally set in for you/ You were delusional with that prediction prior to last night but now you can see there is still no D in the saints defense, Brees is just hanging around to pad his stats a bit before he retires (hopefully soon) and Payton is not the Offensive Genius he once was.

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