Here is the problem with the Saints. They have a high powered offense, lead by a QB who is almost without par in making a third string TE make a crucial catch and making even the commentators wonder where he came from. Brees is the master of throwing any 3 guys on the bench out there and making them viable targets. Painful for Fantasy players, but great for Saints fans. For this reason, I don’t think the loss of Jimmy Graham is going to hurt as much as some think. I think the addition of Unger is going to help Brees more than Graham will- if Unger is back to his previous level. The Saints O-Line needs some love, and some fresh bodies. Brees doesn’t get sacked a lot, but he does get hit alot, both because he seems to hold the ball until the last moment going through his 197 reads, also his line tends to let up after a time.
The Running Game should be OK- SHOULD. CJ Spiller has been brought down from Buffalo and while Mark Ingram will never shed that bust label, he can be a quality back.
That’s the good news. Lets talk bad news.
Rob Ryan’s defense fell off a cliff last year, part of it was due to Byrd going down, part of it was due to hoping for more from some signings- such as Curtis Lofton. Sean Peyton brought in Dennis Allen, and basically gave him control of the secondary, leaving Rob Ryan in charge of the front 7. That group is going to be almost all new- and that has to be a good thing. No one on the defense’s job is safe, except for Byrd who is expensive for another year, and Kenny Vaccaro, who shows flashes of goodness. Cameron Jordan is a solid piece, but not exactly a star.
The Saints year is going to come down to how the defense plays. If they play like Ryan 1.0, then they are a Super Bowl contender, as usual, if they play like Ryan 2.0, then they are going to be throwing grenades at the roster and starting over. Brees is 36, after all. I’ll go with a 4-2 record in the division, and 2-2 vs the NFC East, since 3 of those teams have good lines, and I don’t think they will be good enough to push through it that often, but will be able to throw on all 3 teams. I’ll also go 2-2 vs the AFC North. I don’t think they can hang with Indy, and I don’t think any of the other 3 can really hang with them offensively, but I’m expecting the secondary to fail once too often. Bonus games for Arizona and Detroit is another split here. I just think Detroit on the road is going to be hard to handle late in the year.
So another 9-7 year? I can see 10-6 here as well, If Byrd is what they are paying for, and some of the rookies play to expectation. Of Course, if Brees goes down- or Rob Ryan starts punching people like his dad did- then 4-12 is possible too.
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