saints predictions

The New Orleans Saints bounced back from their disappointing 2012 campaign to go 11-5 last year. While it wasn’t good enough to win the NFC South, New Orleans returned to the playoffs as one of the two Wild Card teams out of the NFC.

The Saints captured the franchise’s first ever road playoff win with a 26-24 victory at Philadelphia, but go on to lose the following week at Seattle 15-23. While it wasn’t the result they had hoped for in head coach Sean Payton’s return from a year long suspension, New Orleans has now advanced to the postseason in 4 of the last 5 years.

The focus going into 2014 will be on winning the division and securing homefield advantage in the playoffs, something it appears the Saints need to get back to the Super Bowl. Before we get into just how far this team can go, let’s take a closer look at what New Orleans will send to the field on both sides of the ball this season.

Last Season
NFC South
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
2014 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
WR Brandin Cooks, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, ILB Khairi Fortt, S Vinnie Sunseri, DE/OLB Ronald Powell
FB Erik Lorig, C Jonathan Goodwin, CB Champ Bailey, S Jairus Byrd
RB Darren Sproles, FB Jed Collins, WR Lance Moore, OT Charles Brown, C Brian De La Puente, DE Will Smith, DT Tom Johnson, ILB Will Herring, CB Jabari Greer, S Malcolm Jenkins, S Roman Harper
2014 Preview
2014 New Orleans Saints Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/7 @ Falcons
9/14 @ Browns
9/21 Vikings
9/28 @ Cowboys
10/5 Bucs
Week 6 BYE
10/19 @ Lions
10/26 Packers
10/30 @ Panthers
11/9 49ers
11/16 Bengals
11/24 Ravens
11/30 @ Steelers
12/7 Panthers
12/15 @ Bears
12/21 Falcons
12/28 @ Bucs
Estimated Wins: 9.56

It’s hard to complain about scoring 25.9 ppg, which was the 10th best mark in the league, but the Saints have to feel like that number should have been higher. New Orleans ranked 4th in the NFL in total offense at 399.4 ypg, with most of that coming from their 2nd ranked passing attack (307.4 ypg).

With Drew Brees leading the charge, there’s every reason to believe that the offense will remain one of the top units in 2014. Brees is coming off another spectacular season, as he topped the 5,000 yard passing mark for a 3rd consecutive season with 5,162 yards to go with 39 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions.

There was a lot of concern over the decision to trade running back Darren Sproles to the Eagles in the offseason and rightfully so. Sproles caught 71 passes for 604 yards in 2013. While he’s numbers have been on the decline, all you have to do is look at how Philip Rivers’ numbers dropped off when Sproles left San Diego.

The Saints believe they have filled the void of Sproles and potentially got even better with the addition of rookie wide out Brandin Cooks, who New Orleans traded up in the 1st round to select 20th overall. Cooks has big time speed that will likely cause major problems for opposing defenses, especially when you consider all the attention that has to paid to star tight end Jimmy Graham, who caught 86 passes for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns in just his 4th year in the league. The Saints also bring back veteran wide outs Marques Colston and Robert Meachem, plus are excited about the potnetial of Kenny Stills, who had 32 receptions for 641 yards as a rookie last year.

While the offense has proven it doesn’t need a running game to put up big numbers, it’s definitely an area the Saints would like to see some improvement. New Orleans ranked just 25th in the league last year with 92.1 ypg. The get back their top two rushers from 2013 in Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram, but keep an eye on 2nd year back Khiry Robinson, who had 102 yards on just 21 carries in the Saints two playoff games.

In order to have a great offense, you need to be strong up front on the offensive line. While the Saints parted ways with starting center Brian de la Puente, they are confident that Tim Lelito or Jonathan Goodwin will be able to step in and get the job done. As for the rest of the unit, there’s a lot to like. Terron Armstead emerged as the starting left tackle late last year and figures to be even stronger in 2014. Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans are as solid as it gets at the two guard spots and veteran Zach Strief is no slouch at right tackle.

One of the biggest surprises of last year in New Orleans was just how much better the defense got in the first year under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Most assumed the unit would be stronger than it’s anemic performance of 2013, but few thought it would be one of the best in the league. The Saints went from ranking 32nd in total defense and 31st in scoring defense in 2012 to finishing 4th in both categories in 2013.

While the Saints are listed in most places as a 3-4 defense, they used a lot of 4-man fronts last year with outside linebacker Junior Galette moving down to play end opposite of Cameron Jordan. The improvements these two made last year played a huge role in the entire defense getting better. Jordan led the way with 12.5 sacks and Galette was right behind with 12. The 24.5 sacks the two combined for was 11.5 more than they put up in 2012. Another big addition up front came in the form of rookie 360 lbs nose tackle John Jenkins, who formed a nice duo inside with veteran Brodrick Bunkley. When the Saints use their 3-4 scheme, Gallete will drop back to outside linebacker with Akiem Hicks stepping in at defensive end.

What a lot of people forget about with all the progress the defense made last year, was the fact that New Orleans lost projected starting outside linebacker Victor Butler to a torn ACL in OTA’s. Getting him back gives the Saints a solid core in the middle of the field. Sandwiching Gallette and Butler on the inside will once again be the duo of Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne. Adding depth are veterans Parys Haralson and Keyunta Dawson.

The thing that has people raving about this defense going into 2014 is the upgrades they were able to make in the secondary. New Orleans went out and signed free agent safety Jarius Byrd, who is a big time playmaker, which is evident by his 23 career interceptions and 11 forced fumbles. Byrd should form quite a combo in the defensive backfield with 2nd year safety Kenny Vaccaro, who was 3rd on the team with 92 tackles as a rookie. They also added veteran corner Champ Bailey, who despite turning 36 could end up starting opposite of Keenan Lewis.

Regular Season Win Total
to Win the NFC
to Win Super Bowl XLVIX
8 to 1
16 to 1
Odds Courtesty of Bovada

There’s a lot to like about the Saints going into the new season. New Orleans is not only going to be able to score points at will with Brees running the offense, but more importantly look to be even stronger on the defensive side of the ball. I don’t think there’s any arguing that the Saints are the most complete team in the NFC South. Not only should they be considered the favorites to win the division, this is one of the few teams who have a legit shot at winning the Super Bowl.

If there’s one concern with New Orleans, it’s their inability to translate their success at home to the road. The Saints were a perfect 8-0 at home last year and just 3-5 on the road. The good news for 2014 is that the road schedule looks to be manageable. Three of their away games come against teams who also play in domes in Atlanta, Dallas and Detroit. They rest of the road slate features Tampa Bay, Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Chicago, all of which are very winnable games.

When it’s all said and done, I believe the Saints are going to finish the year at 12-4, which will have them in the hunt for the top spot in the NFC with Green Bay, who I also have ending the year at 12-4. You might assume that 12-wins would be enough to runaway with the division, but I expect the Falcons to rebound in a big way, but at 10-6 it won’t be enough to catch New Orleans. I highly recommend a play on the Saints to finish OVER their win total of 9.5.

NFC South Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
OVER 9.5
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