The New Orleans Saints have had two mediocre seasons in the past three including last years’ 7-9 campaign in which New Orleans forgot how to play defense. After hiring defensive coordinator Rob Ryan prior to last season, the Saints finished No. 4 in total defense only to fall to 31st last season. The defense will have to get better if New Orleans is to reach the postseason once again. That being said, NFL odds have listed the Saints as +225 longshots to win the NFC South, +1800 to win the NFC Conference and +3300 in Super Bowl predictions to hoist the Lombardi trophy once again. Head coach Sean Payton and the Saints front office believes they have taken the necessary steps to shore up the defense. Payton brought in Dennis Allen, the former Raiders head coach, to assist Ryan with the defense.
The club signed cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Kyle Wilson and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Anthony Spencer in the offseason. The New Orleans Saints also went defense-heavy in this year’s draft using five picks including a first-rounder on Stephone Anthony, a 6-3, 243-pound linebacker from Clemson. The resurgence starts with the defensive line where fourth-year DE Akiem Hicks and running mate Cameron Jordan need to rebound from a so-so season last year. Junior Galette was the team’s best pass rusher with 10 sacks. Jordan finished with 7.5. Whatever Ryan and Allen can put together is likely to be better than the output seen last season. Offensively, any time you have Drew Brees under center, you’ve got a chance. Brees enters his 15th NFL season, coming off of one in which he led the league (tied with Pittsburgh’s Ben Rothliesberger) in passing yards with 4,952. He threw for 33 touchdowns and was the key to the NFL’s No. 1 offense.
This year though, Brees will have to do it without Pro Bowl TE Jimmy Graham. The Saints traded Graham to the Seahawks for veteran center Max Unger and a first-round draft pick. It’s not as if the well is dry on offense. New Orleans added RB C.J. Spiller, drafted giant tackle Andrus Peat (6-7, 313) out of Stanford, and still have receivers Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks. The Saints should still be one of the league’s best offenses. With an improved defense, New Orleans will contend for the 2015 NFC South title and a trip to the postseason. In terms of Super Bowl predictions, the schedule is a favorable one but Brees and the Saints will have to be more consistent and avoid traps like the three-game skid they suffered last season, one that cost them a division title.
Saints Update (9/9/15): New Orleans are now +4000 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +2200 to win the NFC Conference and +175 to win the NFC South.