Last year the New Orleans Saints had a rough season as they went just 7-9 on the year and missed out on winning the division by 1 game. Vegas is expecting them to bounce back this year as their win total has been set at 9 with juice to the Under (-140). Vegas odds have the Saints listed at +220 to win the NFC South, +2500 to win the NFC Title and +4000 to win the Super Bowl. A season preview of the Saints along with their 2015 Schedule are below.
Last year the New Orleans offense ranked 9th in scoring, at 25.1 ppg, while also ranking 1st in total yards (411.4 ypg), 3rd in passing (297.8 ypg) and 13th in rushing (113.6 ypg). The Saints were once again one of the best offensive teams in the league and Drew Brees put up very strong numbers again, but this year he will have to do it without his favorite target TE Jimmy Graham, who led the Saints in receptions last year and WR Kenny Stills, who led them in receiving yards last year. That is two big losses for Brees and this offense. Taking over as the number 1 guy will be Brandin Cooks, who the Saints feel is ready for a breakout year, while they will continue to rely on Marques Colston as the number 2 guys, after he had 902 yards receiving last year. Taking over for Jimmy Graham at TE will be Josh Hill, who only had 14 catches last year, but 5 went for TDs. One problem for the Saints offense over the year has been their ability to run the ball, but after signing CJ Spiller in free agency, to go along with Mark Ingram, they now have one of the better 1-2 punches in the league. Even more importantly for the Saints and Brees is the fact that they now have vastly upgraded offensive line. In free agency they went out and got center Max Unger, who was rated as the 4th best center last year and then they used their 1st round pick on OT Andrus Peat to protect Brees' blindside.
Defensively the Saints ranked 28th in points allowed (26.5 ppg), 31st in yards allowed (384.0 ypg), 25th vs the pass (251.2 ypg) and 29th vs the run (132.8 ypg). The was a problem for the Saints last year so they used 6 of their first 8 draft picks on this side of the ball, plus 4 of their 6 free agent signings were on defense. This should be an improved defense, but they still have a lot of ground to make up. Its start up front where the line looks to be the strongest unit of this defense, even though it wasn't really upgraded from last year. The Saints DL was much better two years ago, but for some reason Akiem Hicks and Cameron Jordan just didn't come close to producing like they did in 2013. The line totaled 17 sacking 2013, but just 9.5 last year. The line is still young, but it is very talented and should get back to playing like it did in 2013. The LB corps was very thin last year and also didn't perform to expectations, so the Saints went out and ILB Stephone Anthony in the 2nd round and OLB Hau'oli Kikaha in the 3rd round, plus have added OLB Daneelle Ellerbe and OLB Anthony Spencer through free agency/. Anthony should start right away and will help this non-existent pass rush, plus he is also very good in run support. Junior Gallette is back for the the Saints and has 22 sacks over the last 2 seasons, while 5th round selection Davis Tull could work his way into the starting lineup. The secondary was pretty much the worst in the league last year and the Saints are hoping that 3rd round selection PJ Williams will be able to step in right away. They also added Brandon Browner and Kyle Wilson in free agency.
The Saints nearly won the division last year, even with a 7-9 record and I feel they will contend for the division title again, but then again it won't take a whole lot to win this division, as it is very weak. The Offense will be good again, but after losing two of his best weapons will Drew be able to put up the same numbers that he has been the last few years? I do expect a little regression, but i also expect them to be a bit more balanced as they should have a solid ground game will Spiller and Ingram running behind a vastly improved OL. Cooks Colston and Hill should have nice years, but I don't see them putting up the same numbers that Graham and Stills did. The defense is what needs to step up for this team and they took some strides to upgrade it, especially the back 8 where there is plenty of talent and plenty of depth. The DL should be better as well, but they do need to get some pressure on the QB to help out the secondary. Im not sure the Saints can over take the Falcons, but I do see them being in the race all year and finishing with a 9-7 record.
Info Gathered From Pro Football Weekly & Athlon Sports
2015 New Orleans Saints Schedule
Sept. 13 at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05
Sept. 20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1
Sept. 27 at Carolina Panthers, 1
Oct. 4 Dallas Cowboys, 8:30
Oct. 11 at Philadelphia Eagles, 1
Oct. 15 Atlanta Falcons (Thu), 8:25
Oct. 25 at Indianapolis Colts, 1
Nov. 1 New York Giants, 1
Nov. 8 Tennessee Titans, 1
Nov. 15 at Washington Redskins, 1
Nov. 22 BYE
Nov. 29 at Houston Texans, 1
Dec. 6 Carolina Panthers, 1
Dec. 13 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1
Dec. 21 Detroit Lions (Mon), 8:30
Dec. 27 Jacksonville Jaguars, 1
Jan. 3 at Atlanta Falcons, 1
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