The New Orleans Saints finished up the 2015 campaign with an overall record of 7-9. The same record that the ended up with in 2014.
Once again the Saints were plagued by horrible play on the defensive side of the ball. New Orleans ranked 31st against both the run (129.4 ypg) and the pass (284.0 ypg).
The hope is that new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen can turn things around, but it won’t be easy. While the Saints won 7-games a year ago, not one of them was against a team that ended up with a winning record.
New Orleans hasn’t gone 3 straight seasons without a playoff appearance under Sean Payton. Preventing that from happening would be a major surprise. Most experts don’t believe the Saints have what it takes in a loaded NFC.
Oddsmakers certainly aren’t high on them, as they have their win total for 2016 set at just 7.
2016 Roster Changes
Top Draft Picks
|DT Sheldon Rankins, WR Michael Thomas, S Vonn Bell, DE David Onyemata|
|TE Coby Fleener, DT Nick Fairley, OLB Nathan Stupar, ILB Craig Robertson, ILB James Laurinaitis, S Roman Harper|
|RB Khiry Robinson, WR Marques Colston, TE Ben Watson, G Jahri Evans, DT Kevin Williams, ILB David Hawthorne, CB Brandon Browner|
2016 Schedule & Odds
|Week||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|Estimated Wins: 6.41|
New Orleans’ Super Bowl window is closing, if not already shut. While they still have quarterback Drew Brees, he turned 37 this offseason. As we saw with Peyton Manning, aging quarterbacks can lose it all in the blink of an eye. .
As long as he can stay healthy, chances are Brees will put up good numbers again in 2016. The offense wasn’t the problem last year. Brees threw for 4,870 yards with 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He likely would have eclipsed the 5,000 yard mark had he not missed a game.
The problem is he no longer has the strong supporting cast around him. Outside of star 3rd-year wide out Bradin Cooks, there’s not a lot to get excited about. Cooks led the team with 84 catches for 1,138 yards and 9 touchdowns. Next best was tight end Ben Watson with 74 catches for 825 yards and 6 scores. However, Watson wasn’t retained and will be replaced by free agent Coby Fleener.
Willie Snead came out of nowhere to catch 69 passes for 984 yards. He’s back, but many feel he’s just a product of the system. The hope is that 2nd round pick Michael Thomas can play a big role. He’ll be asked to be the new redzone target with veteran Marques Colston no longer around.
The ground attack will be led by Mark Ingram. He had an impressive 769 yards and 6 scores on the ground in just 12 games. He also had 50 catches for another 405 yards. The problem is he can’t seem to stay healthy.
New Orleans needs to get more out of C.J. Spiller, who they had high hopes for last year. They believed he could fill the void left by Darren Sproles, but he was a non-factor.
The offensive line isn’t in bad shape. New Orleans has two solid tackles in Terron Armstead and Zach Strief. As well as one of the top centers in Max Unger. The guard play is a bit of a concern. They are really counting on 2015 1st round pick Andrus Peat to show more than he did as a rookie.
The thing to keep in mind is it’s not the offense that’s the problem. It’s a defense that can’t keep opposing teams out of the endzone. New Orleans gave up a staggering 29.8 ppg last year.
While it won’t be hard to improve on that number, a big jump seems unlikely given their offseason. Sure New Orleans addressed the defense in the draft, but the didn’t do much in free agency.
Some will consider middle linebacker James Laurinaitis a quality signing. I’m not one of them. Laurinaitis is overrated in my opinion. The sad thing is, he’s better than what New Orleans had.
He’ll start alongside last year’s 1st round pick in Stephone Anthony and Dannell Ellerbe. While Anthony struggled as a rookie, he should be much better in year two. As for Ellerbe, he’s a liability. Hopefully he will be beat out by Davis Tull or Craig Robertson. Tull is an interesting prospect who spent his entire rookie season on IR.
The other big offseason addition was defensive tackle Nick Fairley. He’ll provide nice depth inside, alongside John Jenkins and 1st round pick Sheldon Rankins. As much as I like Rankins, he’s likely a year or two away from being a true impact player.
What I can’t figure out is how the Saints didn’t do anything to improve their pass rush at defensive end. Keep in mind they ranked 25th last year with just 31 sacks. Defensive end Cameron Jordan was responsible for 10 of those sacks. The problem is he’s all they got at the position. Especially after losing Hau’oli Kikaha to a season-ending injury (ACL).
If they can’t find someone else beside Jordan, the pass defense is going to struggle once a gain. It’s a bit of a shame, as New Orleans actually has some decent players in the secondary. They have two talented safeties in Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd. Plus they used a 2nd round pick on Ohio State’s Vonn Bell.
They also have some nice potential at corner. They found a gem in Delvin Breaux out of the CFL and will get veteran Keenan Lewis back from injury. They also have capable backups in Kyle Wilson and Damian Swann.
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the NFC South
to Win Super Bowl
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
It’s easy to just think that Payton and Brees will get things figured out and peg them for a big bounce back year. Keep in mind that a lot of experts thought New Orleans was the team to beat in the NFC South last year. That didn’t happen and I don’t see it happening this season.
New Orleans may have a great quarterback and potent offense, but there’s too many holes on this team to expect a big turnaround. At the same time, you have to keep in mind they play in a loaded NFC that features numerous elite teams. Not to mention they will be playing a much more difficult schedule this year.
I actually think there’s a better chance the regress. In fact, I have them going just 6-10 in 2016. Sure they could prove me wrong and beat last year’s 7-win mark. But either way, I don’t see them winning enough to make the playoffs.
NFC South Finish
Win Total Prediction
Saints 10-Year Recap