It doesn’t matter if you’re the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos, the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers, the Green Bay Packers, or the Cleveland Browns. You shouldn’t be looking forward to your matchup with the New Orleans Saints, either in the regular season or the post season.
1. The offensive weapons have improved.
Marques Colston might have retired, but in comes Ohio State rookie WR Michael Thomas, who looks to have all of the potential of Colston in his prime. Benjamin Watson left in free agency to the Ravens, but the Saints snagged young TE Coby Fleener from the Colts. Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Mark Ingram, and C.J. Spiller are returning offensive playmakers from last season. Veteran WR Hakeem Nicks looks to make the Saints roster out of camp, bringing veteran presence to a young core group of pass-catchers. The Saints offense hasn’t been a question mark in the entire Sean Payton-era, but look for it to improve on last year’s already good numbers.
2. The Saints D will get after the QB.
Cam Jordan is a Pro-Bowl DE who’s had double-digit sacks in two of the past three years. 2016 First Round Pick Sheldon Rankins out of Louisville will look to shore up the middle of the defensive line, and veteran DT Nick Fairley (coming to New Orleans on a one year deal) will stuff any run attempts up the middle. This will allow Jordan and Kasim Edebali to pin their ears big and rush the opposing QB. This improved defensive front will help ease pressure of the rest of the defense, especially...
3. The Saints secondary is healthy (and minus Brandon Browner).
Now that the defensive line will be able to put more consistent pressure on the opposing team’s QB, this should caused more rushed throws and less opportunities for the opposing QB to get to his third and fourth reads. The Saints secondary will now have to spend less time in coverage, and with PJ Williams, Damian Swann and Delvin Breaux all looking healthy, the Saints cornerbacks should be able to pull down plenty of interceptions. Jairus Byrd, a Pro-Bowl Safety who has previously led the league in interceptions, is entering his first fully healthy offseason as a member of the New Orleans Saints. And while Keenan Lewis is a little banged up right now, reports are that he will be A-OK to start the season. Oh, and Brandon Browner is no longer on the team. There’s that too.
4. The D has had a full offseason with Dennis Allen.
Dennis Allen took over as the New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator in November of last year when the Saints fired Rob Ryan during the 2015 season. Allen was stuck with the personnel from Rob Ryan’s system and scheme, but now he has had an entire offseason and training camp to get the Saints defensive playing as a cohesive unit.
5. Drew Brees is still a Top QB in the NFL.
Even after missing a game last season, Brees still managed to lead the NFL in passing yards. He finished with his fewest interceptions since 2009 and a QB Rating over 100 for the fifth time in his career. Even at age 37, Drew is still a Top 5 QB in the NFL, and he believes he can play at this elite level for at least the next five years. While his opinion might be a little biased, there’s no doubt we should expect another Drew Brees-esque performance in 2016 (remember, it was Peyton Manning’s age 37 season where he broke Brees’s NFL single-season passing yardage record).