This is my first article on here. This writing will contain a forecast for the 2012 Saints, and a peek at whats going to be happening around the rest of the NFC.
Recap from last season:
Last season was incredible if you were a New Orleans Saints fan. The offensive killing machine that has resulted from the pairing of Drew Brees and Sean Peyton reached an all time high. The Saints had the most explosive offense in the league, and one of the best ever. Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's passing record, something that stood for 27 years, threw for 46 touchdown passes, and had a 71.2 completing percentage...and should have won the MVP award. Part of this is thanks to the resurgence of our running game, thanks to the signing of Sproles and Ingram, as well as Pierre staying healthy, and simply having Chris Ivory. This running game helped set up the pass, in fact, many of those deep passes you saw last year were from play-action.
The Saints were unstoppable at home, averaging nearly 40 points per game, going 9-0. On the road, the Saint's were not as good, going 5-4; all in all going 13-3 (14-4 counting post-season). The Saint's were unbelievably close to winning all of their games in the regular season. The Defense was the biggest thorn in the butt for us last year, but the offense was so good it almost didn't matter. However, our defensive struggles cost us the season in San Fransisco, allowing that terrible offense to score 36 points on us. If Pierre Thomas doesn't get hurt early in that game and scores a TD, or the defense could come up with one stop at the end of that game, the Saints would have easily rolled over New York and New England for a Super Bowl win.
The Saint's offseason has been rough to be blunt. The bounty scandal caused major shake ups in the entire organization. Sean Peyton won't be around this season, but I am not terribly concerned about it because we have an incredible amount of veteran leadership on this team. Joe Vitt, Spags, and Charmichael will do a great job in Sean's absence, that I am confident in, so is Drew Brees and company. In fact, Sean being injured for a little while last season has greatly prepared the staff for this season.
In my opinion the Saints had an average draft, but the biggest gem is the signing of Nick Toon, who is easily an upgrade from Meachem. I will credit the Saints too with making big improvements in the defense department, I think our defense will be a lot more fundamentally sound compared to recent years. especially with Spags being our Defensive Coordinator. The signing of Grubbs is also significant to keeping our offensive killing machine rolling. If we can just have an average defense the Saints will be unstoppable with Drew Brees and company in the offensive department.
Overall, the Saints will be a better football team in 2012.
The Outlook for the 2012 New Orleans Saints:
Keep in mind everything I am about to write significantly leans on the fact that I believe Drew Brees will be on the team on way or another, without him, any playoff hopes we have are out the window.
The New Orleans Saints in 2012 are going to be a very dangerous football team, more dangerous than even last year. In fact they are my favorite to win the NFC, and that is my unbiased opinion. Despite everything that has happened to this football drama-wise, Las Vegas is still calling for the Saints to win 11-12 games this year, incredible. This is a veteran football team, which has dealt with plenty of adversity before, and they can and will deal with what has happened. In fact, this team is feeding off of the adversity of this offseason like it's their lunch. This year's motto for the New Orleans Saints is "Us against the world!", and this is a scary mentality to have for other teams. The last football team to adopt this motto was the 2007 New England Patriots. That team stormed through the NFL, blowing out every team they could, and it's made very clear by the Saints locker room that they want to adopt this style of football this year.
With that said, other NFL teams beware. The Saints defense is going to be much improved from last year talent-wise and fundamentally. The linebacker core has made a complete 180 degree turn around. Teams are going to have an extremely difficult time running on the Saints defense, which means they will have to pass a lot more AKA making opposing teams offenses more one-dimensional. Our passing defense should be better too, don't forget how much trouble Steve Spagnuolo gave the Saints the last 3 times we played him. Steve brings a much more fundamentally sound system for the Saints defense to work with, which means we won't have to deal with tragedies like Marshon Lynch or Vernon Davis this year.
With the Saints defense greatly improved, you can only imagine how this will effect our offense. The defense will not only be off the field a lot more, they should give the Saints offense a lot more possessions in football games this year. The Saints offense this year is going to be killer, probably even more than last year. The offensive line is going to be just as good as last year, the signing of Ben Grubbs is a great replacement for Carl Nicks. In fact, this guy may make our running game and screen game even more dangerous than previous years. Ben Grubbs was a crucial piece of Ray Rice's success last year, and chances are you will quickly forget about Carl Nicks. Another factor that will affect our running game is WR Nick Toon, who is very experienced in the run blocking department will also aid our running game. With Ivory, Sproles, Ingram, and Thomas all returning, you can expect the Saints to easily compile 2000 rushing yards once again this season. With the expected success in the running game, the passing game is going to be extremely scary. Drew Brees is 33 years old, and statistically speaking, is the best year production wise on average for all the great quarterbacks to have played in the NFL. Drew Brees should have another great season, thanks to the fact that he is surrounded by the most talented offensive weapons in the league. Another scary thing, Jimmy Graham is going to be another year better, he is bound to have an All-Pro year. I fully expect the Saints to have the number 1 offense in the league this year.
With all the aforementioned things I have said, the Saints are bound for success in 2012. Looking at the schedule, I only see 4 teams with defenses that may give the Saints offense any trouble, and three of those teams we play at home! The toughest game in 2012 will be at Green Bay, and I fully expect another repeat of the game opener of last season, maybe we will come out on the winning side this time. But other than that I don't find the schedule that scary, because when the Saints play their "A Game" we can beat anybody in the NFL and I could say that we could go 16-0, but I have to be realistic. I am projecting the Saints to win 14 games in the regular season of 2012, and I would be extremely surprised if we didn't win more than 11, and don't be surprised if we get 15 or even 16 considering the mentality this team currently possesses, hell, we were 3 games away from doing it in 2009. The Saints will be a dangerous playoff team, and in my opinion have the best chance in a long time of playing the Super Bowl at their own stadium.
Projections for the NFC:
New Orleans: 14-2
Tampa Bay: 7-9
New York: 8-8
Green Bay: 11-5
San Fransisco: 9-7
Saint Louis: 2-14
1. New Orleans
5. Green Bay
All of the projections for the Saints, as well as the NFC record projections have come from months of analyzing, and thought. I have projected every game played by NFC teams this year as well. If any of you guys have any questions, comments, criticism, or input, I will be glad to hear it.
On a side note, just came across this site yesterday and I look forward to being a valuable member of this website for the coming years.