Call me crazy, but I honestly believe the New Orleans Saints can win the Super Bowl this season—well, at the very least be a contender. As long as the team stays healthy throughout the season, it can happen.
(Let's not worry about the Drew Brees contract. So he may miss some workouts. Do you really think the Saints will let Brees go? He will get that contact extension.)
Yes, the Saints will be looking at a season without head coach Sean Payton—but didn't the Saints adjust when Payton suffered a knee injury and couldn't be on the sidelines for several games during the 2011 season? Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael took over play-calling duties and the Saints were just fine.
Yes, defensive players may face suspension due to their participation in "Bountygate," but the Saints just had a productive free agency and picked up a lot of good defensive players in key positions.
The Saints finished the 2011 season with a 13-3 record and reached the divisional round of the playoffs. They could've advanced further if it weren't for the Saints' terrible defense.
Remember that game?
To make a long story short, the Saints blew it against the San Francisco 49ers, losing 36-32. Alex Smith and the Niners made the Saints defense look silly, to say the least.
The main reason for the disappointing end to a once promising season: defense.
The Saints offense had no problem whatsoever. They were a juggernaut last season, and will continue to be one this upcoming 2012 season. Offensively, they still have the majority of their key pieces intact, and the system is the same.
Will the Saints make the playoffs this season?
Their defense, on the other hand, was not so good last season. The Saints organization knew that going into the offseason, and they did a good job addressing it. The defensive unit this year will have a different look, and it is for the better.
Why, you ask?
No Gregg Williams.
The Saints hired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Unlike Williams' complex blitz packages, Spagnuolo's defense relies more on a lot of pressure from the front four and less on blitzing (or getting burned by, let's say, Vernon Davis). A new coordinator, along with some key signings (Curtis Lofton, Brodrick Bunkley, David Hawthorne, to name a few), will make the Saints defense better.
All the Saints need to work on is the secondary, which they can address in the draft.
With the same offensive unit and an improved defensive unit, the Saints can make a deep run in the playoffs and have a good chance of playing in the Super Bowl in front of their home crowd in New Orleans.