The NFL lockout appears to be close to being resolved and football is only two months away. This month is going to be one of the busiest in NFL history as teams will scramble in free agency and training camps will begin. The New Orleans Saints were not greatly affected by the dreaded "Super Bowl Hangover". But they did suffer and embarrassing loss to the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks. I don't think any Saints fan wants to remember that. But lost in the playoff mess was the fact that the Saints actually went 11-5 in the toughest division in football last year. All while riding the likes of Julius Jones and DeShawn Wynn. Yuck. I see the Saints only getting better this upcoming season and i believe they are legit Super Bowl contenders. They had one of the best drafts this year according to experts. And Drew Brees has kept the team intact this offseason with minicamps. I will be taking a game by game look at the Saint's 2011 season. Feel free to comment with which games you think the Saints will win and lose if you disagree.
Saints Win 45 to 35
When the league began to drop hints that the Saints and Packers would play each other in the 2011 season I was afraid they would meet in late December or early January at Lambeau with the elements on the Packer's side. But instead they league went for max hype by pitting the previous two super bowl champions against each other for the season opener. Personally i believe that the Saints will be the most prepared team come week one and this will give them the upper hand against the Packers. Two of the leagues top quarterbacks in this match will provide a high scoring affair. The Saints will have their early playoff exit fresh in their minds and will not allow themselves to lose.
Saints Win 28 to 27
This will be the Saints 2011 home opener in the newly renovated Superdome and I see this as the biggest reason the Saints come out of this one with a W. The Saint's home field advantage is underrated. They can be a stifling bunch when motivated. The Bears have a fearsome front seven that should harass Drew Brees all game long. But I see the Saints doing just enough to slight the Bears in a week two thriller.
Saints Win 38 to 24
Another home game and another win for the Saints. This will be the first test of the Saint's run defense as they will be up against The 2010 NFL leading rusher Arian Foster. The Saints defense will have its hands full with Foster, Matt Shaub and Andre Johnson. But the Saints have more offensive play makers and frankly the Texans defense leaves much to be desired. The Texans will keep it close with their own offensive fireworks but in the end the better defense wins.
Saints Win 31 to 20
I see this game as a bit of a Saint's rookie coming out party. By this time New Orleans' ground game will be in sync and Mark Ingram will be given his heaviest dose of carries yet. The Jags boast a young talented D-line but Ingram will show them that they have room to improve. By this game I also see Blaine Gabbert as the starter for the Jaguars. His O-line is horrendous and rookie Cam Jordan will be too much.The Saints use a methodical ground attack to show off their impressive stable of running backs to coast through this game.
Saints Win 27 to 24
This game is closer than it should be. Rookie Cam Newton shows why he was chosen number one overall and proves he will be a headache for the Saints in future years. His ground game proves to be an equalizer for the Saints improved pass rush. The Panther's young defensive core shines and consistently get to Brees in the backfield. But the Saint's ground game once again proves to be a strength and plays well in the fourth quarter to hold off the Panthers.
Saints Lose 24 to 31
The Saints's 5-0 run comes to an end when they head to Tampa Bay. The Bucs are a young team that has loads of talent. They could very well have the leagues top D-line after drafting the likes of Gerald McCoy, Brian Price, Adrian Clayborn, and Da'Quan Bowers in the first and second rounds the past two years. Yikes. The young defense causes fits for the Saint's sometimes shaky offensive line. Josh Freeman and Legarette Blount put on an offensive show the Saints will want to forget.
Saints Win 35 to 31
This is going to be one of the top three games of the year. A rematch of the 2009 Superbowl, the Saints and Colts should provide a night of offensive fireworks. Every Saints fan remembers what happened in the 2009 Super Bowl so I won't go on. Both teams will be fired up and you can bet the Colts will do their best to take some shots at the Saints. But with memories that Superbowl victory resurfacing the Saints and home crowd will do just enough to edge the Colts again.
Saints Lose 24 to 28
I have noticed over the past few seasons that the Saints and Rams have created a bit of a rivalry. They have been close hard fought games. Last season there was a bit of taunting going on with Sam Bradford and Roman Harper. In this game i see Steven Jackson playing lights out because his fumble late in the game last year may have cost them that victory. Sam Bradford is going to be a great quarterback in this league and he has a great performance. The Saints really don't play like they want it in this game after all the hype from the previous week. Consequently, Jackson runs like crazy and shows the holes in the Saints front seven.
Saints Win 23 to 17
The Saints come in to this game with a chip on their shoulder. They just lost to the Rams and lost once to the Bucs. Their defense plays lights out and the Bucs struggle to get anything going. Sean Payton gets back to his grind it out strategy and lets his stable of running backs run down the young Bucs throats.
Outcome: Saints Lose 28 to 31
The rivalry between the Saints and Falcons is about to become the most recognized and anticipated in the NFL. They literally hate each other and it shows on the field. This game is played in Atlanta and the home crowd has as much of an affect as the Saints' crowd. Both teams play at a high level and go back and forth all game. Drew Brees connects with Jimmy Graham for the game-tying score with a minute-and-a-half left. But Matt Ryan and company drive down the field and kick the game winner as time expires.
Saints Win 42 to 27
Fresh off their bye week and a loss to the Falcons, the Saints play in a Monday night match up with the Giants. Anyone who even remotely follows Drew Brees and the Saints knows how well they perform on Monday Night. He has a game that resembles his 2009 performance against the Patriots. Handing in five touchdown passes and a perfect passer rating. The Saints get back to what they do best and stomp on the Giants.
Saints Win 35 to 28
The Detroit Lions are an ever improving team. They have a young talented D-line and several offensive play makers. But their secondary and offensive line keep them from winning more often than not. The Saints take advantage of both as they pick apart the secondary and harass Matthew Stafford all game long.
Saints Win 27 to 14
Chris Johnson is arguably the best back in the NFL. But he alone can't beat the Saints. Early on in the game the Titans run it all over the Saints and gain a 14-0 lead. But Drew Brees only takes it for so long. He leads his team to take the lead late in the third quarter which causes the Titans to need to throw the ball. The Saints take advantage and force Jake Locker in to two interceptions to end the game.
Saints win 34 to 20
This game is basically a repeat of last weeks Titans game. A team with running back talent but no quarterback. This game is different in the fact that the two teams have met twice in the last two seasons. In the NFC championship game and in the season opener last year. The outcome will be no different.
Saints Win 45 to 38
Wow. This game will be the top game of 2011. The day after Christmas. Monday Night. Two of the top teams in the league fighting for the division crown. I believe that the winner of this game will decide home field advantage in the playoffs. The Saints have an edge playing at home as well as on Monday Night. I see the team putting together its best game yet and leading the Falcons the whole game. They can smell the Lombardi in this game.
Saints win 35 to 21
The Saints do not rest their starters thanks to the commissioner's new "play all year" scheme. This game will also have playoff implications as the Falcons are right behind the Saints record wise. The Panthers don't stand a chance as the Saints have the Super Bowl in their sights.