2018 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS FOOTBALL PREVIEW

HEAD COACH: Sean Payton (13th season)

RECORD WITH THE SAINTS: 105-71

CAREER RECORD: 105-71

2017 RECORD: 11-5

2017 DIVISIONAL RECORD: 4-2

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Pete Carmichael

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Dennis Allen

STADIUM: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (74,295)

 

2018 SCHEDULE

September 9 Tampa Bay

September 16 Cleveland

September 23 Atlanta

September 30 at NY Giants

October 8 Washington

BYE

October 21 at Baltimore

October 28 at Minnesota

November 4 LA Rams

November 11 at Cincinnati

November 18 Philadelphia

November 22 Atlanta

November 29 at Dallas

December 9 at Tampa Bay

December 17 at Carolina

December 23 Pittsburgh

December 30 Carolina

 

2017 RESULTS

Minnesota 19 – 29

New England 20 – 36

Carolina 34 – 13

Miami 20 – 0

Detroit 52 – 38

Green Bay 26 – 17

Chicago 20 – 12

Tampa Bay 30 – 10

Buffalo 47 – 10

Washington 34 – 31 OT

LA Rams 20 – 26

Carolina 31 – 21

Atlanta 17 – 20

NY Jets 31 – 19

Atlanta 23 – 13

Tampa Bay 24 – 31

POSTSEASON

Carolina 31 – 26

Minnesota 24 – 29

 

FIVE – YEAR WINNING TREND

2013: 11 – 5

2014: 7 – 9

2015: 7 – 9

2016: 7 – 9

2017: 11 – 5

 

STARTERS RETURNING OFFENSE: 9

STARTERS RETURNING DEFENSE: 10

 

2017 STATS

OFFENSE:

TOTAL: 391.2

RUSHING: 129.4

PASSING: 261.8

SCORING: 28.0

THIRD DOWN%: 37.6

PUNT RETURNS: 6.4

KICK RETURNS: 22.9

 

DEFENSE:

TOTAL: 336.5

RUSHING: 111.7

PASSING: 224.8

SCORING: 20.4

INTERCEPTIONS: 20

SACKS: 42

TURNOVER MARGIN: +7

 

2017 INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

PASSING: Drew Brees, 386 – 536 –4,334 – 23TD – 8INT

RUSHING: Mark Ingram, 230 –1,124 – 4.9 – 12TD

RECEIVING: Michael Thomas, 104 –1,245 – 12.0 – 5TD

TACKLES: Von Bell, 83

SACKS: Cameron Jordan, 13.0

INTERCEPTIONS: Marshon Lattimore, 5

 

2018 NEW ORLEANS DRAFT: B

DE Marcus Davenport, Texas San Antonio

WR Tre’Quan Smith, Central Florida

OT Rick Leonard, Florida State

CB Natrell Jamerson, Wisconsin

CB Kamrin Moore, Boston College

RB Boston Scott, Louisiana Tech

OL Will Clapp, LSU

 

KEY PLAYER MOVEMENT

ADDITIONS

OL Jermon Bushrod, Miami

S Kurt Coleman, Carolina

LB Demario Davis, NY Jets

WR Cameron Meredith, Chicago

CB Patrick Robinson, Philadelphia

QB Tom Savage, Houston

TE Ben Watson, Baltimore

 

SUBTRACTIONS

CB Delvin Breaux, free agent

S Rafael Bush, Buffalo

QB Chase Daniel, Chicago

OL Senio Kelemete, Houston

WR Willie Snead, Baltimore

DL Zach Strief, retired

S Kenny Vaccaro, free agent

 

OFFENSE PREVIEW

The Saints posses one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL led by QB Drew Brees and Head Coach Sean Payton. Brees is showing no signs of slowing down at the age of 39. Many consider Brees a master of this offense and routinely gets the Saints in the right play at the right time. His NFL-record 72 percent completion rate last season shows just what the future Hall-of-Famer can do. There are few better than Brees in identifying opponents weak spots.

New Orleans has more than Brees. RB’s Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are perhaps the best duo in the NFL. Both can take over a game with Ingram between the tackles and Kamara on the outside. Ingram runs low to the ground and has very powerful legs. Kamara is quick and slippery, plus he is a weapon in the passing game.

WR Michael Thomas has 196 receptions in his first two seasons in the NFL, that is a league best. He is “the” go-to guy in the red-zone with his sure hands and crisp route running. Ted Ginn continues to be a weapon in the passing attack averaging over 14 yards per reception. Former Chicago receiver Cameron Meredith is looking to rebound from a serious knee injury and give the Saints an upgrade in the slot. New Orleans drafted Tre’Quan Smith in the third-round for insurance. The Saints allowed Willie Snead to leave for Baltimore. Benjamin Watson returns to the Saints after spending time in New Orleans from 2013-15.

The offensive line is perhaps better than advertised. Center Max Unger is the anchor of the group. When healthy, LT Terron Armstead has every chance to make the Pro Bowl. Armstead has the ability to contain edge rushers because of his athleticism and strength. Second-year RT Ryan Ramszyk is another future Pro Bowl player who is an excellent run-blocker. Guards Andrus Peat and Larry Warford are solid protectors of Brees. Warford was signed as a free-agent last season from Detroit and made the Pro Bowl in 2017. Depth is a concern.

 

DEFENSE PREVIEW

Over the last two seasons the Saints have revamped their defense and now they are starting to see the results. The aren’t dominating like they would like to be, but they were among the league leaders in sacks (42) and takeaways (25).

Cameron Jordan is the anchor who plays the run as well as any edge rusher in the NFL. Nobody in the NFL is better at knocking down passes. The Saints can rely on Jordan to be in the line-up since he hasn’t missed a game in his seven NFL seasons. Marcus Davenport could the complement to Jordan on the other side. He will compete with veteran Alex Okafor for the starting spot. Okafor started 10 games last season until getting hurt with a torn Achilles.

Sheldon Rankins is a DT that requires a double-team in the middle and the Saints are counting on him to make more plays on his own this season. NT Tyeler Davison plays mostly in running situations along with David Onyemata.

Demario Davis is one of the most athletic LB’s in the NFL. New Orleans signed him from the Jets and is expected to be the anchor of the linebacking crew. AJ Klein will move to strong side linebacker since he is stronger against the run. Alex Anzalone showed potential as a rookie on the weak side, but health is a concern. The Saints have depth with Mike Mauti, Craig Robertson, Nate Stupar and Manti Te’o in the ranks.

CB Marshon Lattimore started 13 games as a rookie in 2017. He became the first rookie to make the Pro Bowl since Eric Allen did so in 1995. Lattimore is a shut-down corner with instinctive skills and great recovery speed. The other corner spot starter is a question mark with Ken Crawley, PJ Williams and Patrick Robinson in the running. FS Marcus Williams has a solid rookie season with great range and excellent ball skills. Vonn Bell can blitz and is a big hitter, but lacks coverage skills. Free agent Kurt Coleman will makes plays as he brings much needed experience and leadership to the secondary.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Punter Thomas Morstead remains one of the best in the NFL, averaging 47.0 yards per punt last season. Wil Lutz is a reliable kicker with a powerful right leg. His 31 field goals last season tied the record held by Morten Anderson and John Carey. The return game could shift with Ginn doing less work. TommyLee Lewis and Kamara will be the frontrunners.

 

WHAT THE SCOUTS ARE SAYING:

New Orleans was one play away from reaching the NFC Championship and now they are all in for a run to the Super Bowl this season. QB Drew Brees is still one of the best and now he has several weapons to choose from. The offensive line is solid and will give Brees protection and will open up the running game once again. WR Michael Thomas continues to elevate his game and Mark Ingram is playing at a high level. The defense gets to the opposing QB and they force turnovers. This team is poised to make a deep run and if they don’t make it to the Super Bowl, it will be a huge disappointment for the entire organization.

 

PREDICTION:

The Saints are the class of the NFC South and they are just as good as the Rams, Eagles, Vikings and Packers in the NFC. As long as this offense continues to produce and the defense continues to grow, they will be a factor. The schedule is a tough one but the Saints are up for the challenge.

 

PROJECTED FINISH: 12-4, First NFC South.