10 Things The New Orleans Saints Must Do To Repeat As Champs in 2010
Following the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history, the New Orleans Saints seem to be flying under the radar going into this season.
It seems that very few people have them at number one in the power rankings, they are very rarely talked about on television, and it makes no sense.
They are returning essentially the same team, minus Scott Fujita and Mike Bell.
So why can't they repeat as champs? Here are 10 things the Saints must do to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.
Go At Least 4-2 in The NFC South
The Saints went 4-2 against NFC South teams last year on their way to winning the division.
This year, the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers both look to challenge New Orleans for the division crown.
To avoid being second in the South and needing a Wild Card bid to make the playoffs, the Saints must go at least 4-2 in the division and sweep either Tampa Bay or Carolina.
The Saints must also split the season series with the Falcons, if not win both games against Atlanta.
Get Solid Production From Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush
The loss of Mike Bell was a huge blow to the Saints during the offseason.
They also lost third string back Lynell Hamilton to a torn ACL and he will be out for the season.
With Bell gone and Hamilton out, the Saints will look to Reggie Bush for much more production than the 390 yards he rushed for last season.
They will also be forced to run a two back system, as opposed to the three back rotation they used last season.
Bush and Thomas will both need to rush for at least 800 yards if the Saints hope to be near the 2,100 they ran for in 2010.
Go at Least .500 on The Road
While the Saints have the 27th easiest schedule in the NFL, and the easiest in the NFL South, four of the five non conference teams the Saints play on the road made the playoffs in 2009.
The Saints will play the team that ruined their perfect season hopes after a 10-0 start in 2009, the Dallas Cowboys, in Week 12 of the season, and the game will be played in the same stadium the Super Bowl will be played in 2010.
This game is all but a must win for the Saints, as it is late in the season and will be the biggest chance the Saints will have all season to send a message to the league that they look to repeat in 2010.
The Week 16 road match up against the Atlanta Falcons could very well decide the division and will be one of the biggest games of the season for the Saints.
The Saints also play the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, and Baltimore Ravens on the road, including all the teams in the NFC South.
The New Orleans Saints were second in the NFL in 2009 in takeaways with 39.
The Saints were able to intercept 26 passes last season, led by Darren Sharper's league leading nine picks on the season.
Sharper is currently on the Saints physically unable to perform list and could stay there until the start of the season.
As good as the Saints were at picking the ball off, they were nearly as good recovering fumbles, doing so 13 times, good enough for fifth best in the NFL.
The Saints ability to force a turnover was crucial to their success, as their defense gave up the seventh most yards in the NFL with 3,769.
If the Saints are not able to continue this trend in 2010, it will severely hurt their chances at winning ball games and repeating as champs.
Rely on Their Offensive Line To Do The Job
Of the five New Orleans Saints that made the Pro Bowl in 2009, two of them, Jahri Evans and Jon Stinchcomb, were offensive linemen.
The line only allowed 20 sacks on 534 passing attempts in 2009.
Their job is made even harder by the fact that Drew Brees is only six feet tall, and therefore lineman have an easier job of getting their hands up on Brees' passes.
On top of leading the Saints to fourth in the NFL in passing offense, they helped the Saints running game to sixth most yards in the league.
This shows both their versatility and overall skill, as they were the only team in the league to be in the top six in both categories.
They return all five starters in 2010 and look to once again be one of the best offensive lines in the league.
Start The Season off Strong
New Orleans started 2009 better than any team in the NFL, winning their first 13 games and not recording a loss until week 15 of the season.
After losing the final three games of the regular season, their 13 win start proved to be crucial, as it provided the Saints with a first round bye and allowed them a week of rest instead of having to enter the playoffs on a three game losing streak.
It also allowed the Saints to be able to rest their starters and receive home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Though unlikely, the Saints could realistically enter their week 12 match up against the Dallas Cowboys undefeated, creating a rematch from last season.
Put More Pressure on The Opposing Quarterback
The Saints were only 13th in the NFL with 35 sacks in 2009.
They recognized this as one of their few problems and made it their goal to fix it before the 2010 season.
They did so by adding Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson the the roster.
Brown and Wilkerson combined for 12 sacks and 66 tackles in 2009, and will team up with Will Smith, Remi Ayodele and Sedrick Ellis to form a much improved defensive line.
The addition of Brown and Wilkerson will now provide Will Smith with an opposite field compliment, something he did not have in 2009.
Beat Minnesota and Pittsburgh at Home
The Saints will start the 2010 campaign with a rematch of the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings.
While it appears that the Vikings will be without quarterback Brett Favre this season, they will still be hungry to avenge last years season ending loss and beat the Saints.
Along with the game against the Vikings, the match up with the Pittsburgh Steelers will be the Saints biggest test at home.
If Ben Roethlisberger's suspension stands, he will be entering his second game of the season against the Saints.
Any Super Bowl team must be able to take care of business at home, and the Saints must take care of these two teams if they want to stay Super Bowl favorites.
Lead The League in Points Scored
When it came to putting the ball in the end zone, there was no better team than the New Orleans Saints last season.
They put up a league leading 510 points in 2009, averaging 31.9 points per game.
The saying defense wins championships was not true for the New Orleans Saints, as their offense made up for the less than stellar efforts by the defense and made it their goal to not only beat the other team, but to out score them.
The defense looks to be improved coming into 2010, with their only major loss being linebacker Scott Fujita, but it will still be up to the offense to put up more points than the opposing team can think about scoring if they want to repeat in 2010.
Drew Brees Must Put Up MVP Like Numbers
A pivotal part of the New Orleans Saint Super Bowl run in 2009 was the MVP worthy performance of Drew Brees.
Brees lead the NFL in passer rating (109.6, completion percentage (70.6), and touchdowns (34) during the regular season.
In the postseason, Brees was able to elevate his game, increasing his passe rating to 117.0, while throwing for 732 yards and eight touchdowns.
The play of Drew Brees helped the Saints be the fourth best offense in the NFL in 2009, and the Saints must be fourth or higher in 2010 if they hope to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Agree? Disagree? Post your feedback in the comments section!