The 2012 season is starting to feel a lot like the 2009 campaign in which the Saints began the year 13-0 and brees-ed through the playoffs to capture the franchise's first ever Super Bowl title.
Of course 2012 will not be without adversity as the team has to go to war without its head coach, Sean Payton, who was suspended for the entire season due to his role in the "Bountygate" scandal. It will also miss its middle linebacker, Jonathan Vilma, for the entire campaign for the same reason.
Perhaps even crazier, the team will employ two men as head coach—offensive line coach Aaron Kromer during the first six weeks, then linebacker coach Joe Vitt after he returns from a six-game suspension for his role in the scandal.
Finally, it will have to overcome a four-game suspension to start the season for its best defensive end Will Smith.
Nonetheless, the Saints have to be considered the favorite to win the NFC South, at least for any expert who knows football.
Luckily the schedule sets up relatively favorably. Here is the way that season should develop through the lens of each individual game.