I special ordered the Saints version of Lindy's Pro Football 2013 Preview so I could get Drew Breeeeeeeees!!! as my Cover Boy this year, and it did not disappoint. I was even treated to a "Peyton Place" cover pun (Payton In Place Again) that is usually reserved for Peyton Manning - double score!! See for yourself - LINK
Now it's time for your special double score...my encapsulating of the Saints-related information, so without further ado...
This year's edition contains NFL-wide features on Joe Flacco (he's unflappable!!!), the read-option, and Chuck Pagano, before jumping into Howard Balzer's 2013 predictions. He's got the Saints reclaiming the NFC South (woo-hoo!!), but then has Atlanta and Green Bay in the NFC Championship game, with Denver and Houston on the AFC side. He then sees the Broncos defeating the Packers in the wintry New Jersey Bowl.
The NFC South preview page sings the praises of the Falcons (they have the "look of Super Bowl pedigree") and calls them the favorite to win the division title again. The Saints question "to be answered" has to do with (surprise!) Sean Payton's return. David Elfin does not see Keenan Lewis and (the now-injured and out for the season) Victor Butler as game changers on a terrible defense, but notes that Payton's leadership should help on both sides of the ball.
Sheldon Mickles was once again charged with writing up the Saints section, but before I get into that, I'll share that looking at the first page of each team's section reveals that the Saints are projected as the NFC South champs, followed by Atlanta, Tampa Bay, then Carolina.
In the positional rankings (scale of 1-10), QB scored a 9; WR, OL, coaching, and special teams got an 8; RB got a 7, LB 6.5, and DL and DB got 6 each, for an average overall rating of 7.3. The team scored a +1 on intangibles, too, but I wasn't sure how to compute that along with the 1-10 scores, so it's just kind of out there, taunting me.
Mickles put running back Mark Ingram on the Hot Seat, saying that they "need (Ingram) to be the halfback they traded back into the first round to get in 2011 in order to have the balanced attack they had in 2009 and 2011."
And then in the Scouting Snapshot, the anonymous scout notes that Ingram "has feature back skills, but he's a volume runner. Will he ever get the opportunity with Payton?" Hmmm, sounds like Ingram may have to bite his tongue to avoid saying the Bush-like, "I don't call the plays. I just run what they tell me to run." This scout also isn't worried about Drew Brees's 2012 completion percentage, points to Junior Galette and Martez Wilson as pass rushers to flourish under new DC Rob Ryan, and touts Kenny Vaccaro's "multi-dimensional skill set" as making him the best safety in the 2013 draft.
Mickles's 3 Things To Look For include: another chorus of "the defense has no way to go but up" (I sure hope this turns out to be true), an impressive year from Drew Brees, and a return to the playoffs.
* * *
Nothing particularly revelatory here, but it is a fun read for me and a permanent part of my summer tradition to read this magazine from cover to cover until Training Camp arrives. Once I've memorized the information about the Saints, I then pay attention to the team pages of the NFC South and the rest of the Saints 2013 opponents until I know all that stuff pretty well, too.
Do you have any love for Lindy's Sports NFL Preview magazine?