New Orleans Saints' Season Preview: Part 3

James ReesAnalyst IJuly 18, 2008

This is Part 3 of a four part series preview of the Saints’ 2008 opponents.  Part two can be found here

Part 3: Atlanta, Kansas City, Green Bay, Tampa Bay

Game 9, Falcons:  It’s a new season starting in Week 9.  The Saints’ bye came in Week 8, essentially splitting their 16 game schedule into two equal eight game seasons.  The second half begins in Atlanta. 

The Falcons are a fragile franchise in their current state.  Things haven’t been all peaches and cream for the Dirty Birds lately, having been abandoned by Michael Vick and forced to settle for Joey Harrington most of last season.  Add Bobby Petrino’s desertion onto the pile and you’ve got a veritable poo storm hovering over Hot-lanta.

They are taking steps to rectify their precipitous collapse though.  Drafting Matt Ryan was step No. 1 and the right decision to make.  He’s a guy that can takes his rookie bumps and bruises now while the rest of the team is still trying to get back to legitimacy. 

Next year he’ll have the franchise’s respect because he will have suffered with them from day one.  That’s when the Falcons will begin to see light at the end of the tunnel.

But for now, the Falcons are a terrible football team with a snowball’s chance in hell to beat the Saints in Week 9.  I won’t go into what strategy the Saints should use versus Atlanta because pretty much anything will work against them.

New Orleans starts their second season with a 38-10 win over the Falcons and improves to 6-3 on the season. 

Game 10, Chiefs:  For the fifth straight week the Superdome will be empty on Sunday as the Saints travel to Kansas City to complete their AFC West opponent circuit. 

The Chiefs are a mediocre team at best right now.  They drafted Glenn Dorsey and Brandon Flowers, two players who will surely make an impact, but maybe not immediately.  (On second thought Dorsey will probably have eaten a couple of quarterbacks by Week 11 so I can’t say he’ll be a slow starter.) 

They exchanged Jarred Allen for a bunch of draft picks, essentially forfeiting their only legitimate pass rushing threat from a year ago.  And their offense, usually centered around a dominating rushing attack, lacks any sense of talent on the offensive line.  (Why else would it now be considered a reach to take Larry Johnson in the top five of your fantasy draft?) 

Did I mention Brody Croyle is their starting quarterback?

The Chiefs are a young team with a lot of potential but they’re still at least a year away.  The Saints will have no trouble winning in Arrowhead and will improve to 7-3 with a 30-7 win.

Game 11, Packers:  Obviously, as I write this preview we are being smothered to death by the Brett Farve saga so I have no idea what type of team the Packers will be fielding in Week 12. 

They could be a unified squad, running roughshod over the NFC behind their long time leader Farve; or they could be a club in shambles, led astray by their hard-headed GM Ted Thompson who stubbornly still believes Aaron Rodgers is better than Farve despite the Packers 5-5 record.  (Any idea who’s side I’m on?)

It’s impossible to predict what will happen next at the quarterback position, so why bother dwelling on it.  Let’s talk about the certainties on Green Bay’s roster.

I know for sure they’ve got a strong offensive line that moves mountains for emerging star Ryan Grant.  I know they’ve got a talented defense quarterbacked by A.J. Hawk and a formidable front four to rush the passer. 

And I know they’ve got a speedy corps of talented young receivers (and one rather old, but good one) who I’d rank as one of the top groups in the league.

Yes, the Packers are set up well for a very successful season.  If they could just find a quarterback with a little experience who knows what it takes to win games in the NFL, they’d be set.  Too bad there’s nobody out there wanting to (re)join the packers with those types of credentials.

I don’t know what type of team the Packers will be at this point in the season but I do know the Saints will be intimidating.  New Orleans defeats Green Bay at home on Monday night 24-21 to improve to 8-3.

Game 12, Bucs:  At this point in the season you’ve got to wonder who’s doing the quarterbacking for the Bucs.  Will Jeff Garcia have lasted through 12 games or will someone from the Griese/McCown/Sims/Johnson camp be under center? 

It looks like Sims will be dealt sometime in the next month and you can bet if Garcia goes down, Griese will go down right along with him.  (Nobody loves being on the IR more than Brian Griese.)

So if Garcia’s 38-year-old body breaks down that leaves McCown, a guy who showed immense composure when leading the Bucs to a win against the Saints in the Superdome last year and Josh Johnson, a rookie from San Diego.

Johnson made a name for himself at the senior bowl where he was the best passer on the field by far.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Gruden hands him the reigns at some point during the season. 

Regardless of who is quarterbacking Tampa in Week 13, they’ll be tough to beat at home.  I think the Saints suffer a let down after three straight wins and drop a close one to the Bucs 28-24. 

After 12 games the Saints are 8-4 and heading into the easiest part of their schedule. 

Stay tuned for Part 4.