Holy Cow! It's another Saints Preview Review. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
It provided a synergistic sampler platter of goodies: a collection of espn.com expert 2012 division finish predictions, intelligence from NFC South Blogger Pat Yasinskas, some statistical nuggets from ESPN Stats and Information, an insider's view from ESPN The Magazine, and a Blogger Blitz NFC South Preview video featuring Yasinskas.
Continuing our week's theme of delving into the smorgasbord of speculative previews, make the jump for a peek at the minutiae of it...
First, I want you to know that of the five experts cited, Yasinskas and Adam Schefter predict the Saints to finish first in the NFC South, while John Clayton and Ashley Fox foresee a second place finish, and Jeffri Chadiha projects them third.
The intelligence provided by Yasinskas, billed as "five things you need to know about the Saints," covers these areas: who's missing, more production from RB Darren Sproles, Drew Brees as the coach on the field, an improved defense, and the change on the offensive line.
In the Inside the Numbers section, Sproles was featured prominently:
Darren Sproles played a vital role in the Saints' high-octane offense last season, averaging 7.6 yards per touch, which was first among running backs with at least 50 touches.
Sproles averaged 6.9 yards per rush attempt, best among qualified running backs, and did not fumble. He averaged 7.5 yards per rush, and scored two of his four rushing touchdowns on runs outside the tackles.
Sproles was also effective in the passing game, leading all running backs with 86 receptions and seven touchdowns. He was one of the NFL's top receiving threats, despite all of his passes coming on throws of 10 air yards or fewer. Sproles finished with 707 yards after the catch, second in the league behind Wes Welker (712).
And here are the other nuggets:
• The Saints had one of the top red zone offenses in 2011, averaging 3.7 yards per play, best in the NFL. Tight end Jimmy Graham had eight red zone touchdowns, tied for third in the league.
• Drew Brees completed 57.6 percent of his throws of 15 air yards or more downfield last season with 18 touchdowns. Both figures were best among qualified quarterbacks.
Gary Horton penned the Insider's View, and calls the Saints running backs the best unit on the team...
a healthy Mark Ingram still can be an elite feature back. Darren Sproles is the premier dual threat in the NFL, and Pierre Thomas offers a blend of Ingram's power and Sproles' versatility. When bruiser Chris Ivory is your fourth back, that means you're loaded.
...and the defensive line as the worst:
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Obviously, this piece wasn't meant for our well-informed brains, but what do you think of the information provided in it? Is it accurate, relevant, misleading, worthless?