I’m just going to go ahead and come out and say this, and it is a fairly popular opinion: The Saints are going to be good this year. Very good. With Drew Brees returning at quarterback and Jimmy Graham catching passes, this team is an offensive juggernaut. They enjoy one of the top two (along with Seattle) home field advantages in the league. The Saints are experienced, and have added several big names including All-Pro safety Jairus Byrd from the Buffalo Bills. It won’t be hard to convince anyone to play these futures, but I’ll lay out the case anyway:
1. Drew Brees. Brees has been a model of consistency since moving from San Diego to New Orleans, posting over 4,350 passing yards in each of his eight seasons with the Saints, including 5,000+ in the last three years. He routinely finishes at or near the top of the league in every major statistical category for quarterbacks, and has only improved with age as the rules have changed to benefit signal-callers across the league.
2. Home-field advantage. The rabid nature of the Saints fan-base and the tailoring of their roster to fit their indoor arena creates a unique situation where New Orleans is nearly indomitable when playing at home. For the Saints to win less than 6 games at home is a nearly impossible thought to even fathom, no matter the opponents. When you think of the fact that their first two home opponents are Minnesota and Tampa Bay… it becomes virtually certain.
3. The schedule. While the Saints do face a tough slate over October and November, the initial opening stretch sees them play Atlanta, Cleveland, Minnesota, Dallas, and Tampa Bay in weeks 1-5, none of whom had a winning record in 2013 and which could easily be translated into a 4-1 or even 5-0 opening mark. I feel that this is a lead that will be insurmountable for the rest of the NFC South.
This could be a snowball rolling downhill for New Orleans if they get off to a fast start, and I could easily see 11 or 12 wins and a first round bye.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OVER 9.5 WINS (-190)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS WIN NFC SOUTH (-110)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS MAKE PLAYOFFS (-200)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS WIN NFC (+750)