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The bounty controversy takes out key defensive player Jonathon Vilma for the season, as well as defensive end Will Smith for four games. One of the brightest minds in the game, Sean Payton, is out for the season, and their interim head coach, Joe Vitt, is out for the first six games.
The Saints' strength of schedule doesn't get any easier, as the teams they face this season had a combined winning percentage of .504 last year.
Competition in the NFC South has also improved, with the Atlanta Falcons reloading by acquiring Asante Samuel. Adding Samuel across from Brent Grimes gives the Falcons one of the most dangerous cornerback tandems in the league.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have also made big moves this offseason by signing All-Pro lineman Carl Nicks and wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
Although the Saints still have Drew Brees at quarterback, the distractions surrounding the bounty scandal, as well as the improved competition in the NFC South, may have New Orleans watching the playoffs from home this season.