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Revisiting 2017 New Orleans Saints season predictions

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It’s the midpoint of the Saints season, which means it’s time to answer for the predictions I made at the beginning of the 2017 season.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s have some fun, shall we? Right before the 2017 NFL season, I gave you some New Orleans Saints season and team predictions. Just like mock drafts and everything else, it’s an educated guess given the facts and feelings presented at the time. Here’s how those ‘predictions’ turned out.

Week 1: at Minnesota Vikings (Monday Night Football)

Pick: Saints, 24-16 (1-0)

Thoughts: The Saints defense sets the tone in this contest, as they’ll frustrate Sam Bradford early and often. It’ll be close through halftime, but the Saints will ride some momentum to pull ahead in the 3rd Quarter to get this one.

Yeah. The Saints didn’t show up in Week 1. The offense missed out on some crucial drives, and they made Sam Bradford look like a future Hall of Fame quarterback. Swing and a miss, Hendrix.

Week 2: New England Patriots

Pick: Saints, 33-27 (2-0)

Thoughts: Given what we know now, it’s hard to see the Patriots starting the season at 0-2, but let me be that guy to pick the Saints when everyone else takes New England. The Superdome will be firing on all cylinders, and somehow Sean Payton and the Saints offense will be able to capitalize on some of the things Andy Reid was able to accomplish while Dennis Allen’s defense comes up big in the end.

To quote a member of the community, “lulz”. Nothing but bad football at home to start the year. The Superdome was energized, but the Saints defense was flat. Tom Brady and the Pats offense went psycho on Dennis Allen’s unit, and they put the game out of reach way too early. 0-2 start, just the way I thought it’d go.

Week 3: at Carolina Panthers

Pick: Panthers, 26-20 (2-1)

Thoughts: The Panthers start their season 2-0 with victories over the 49ers and Bills to restore some confidence. A big NFC South showdown out east will have Ron Rivera’s squad emerge victorious in this early divisional clash.

I’m glad to be wrong on the Panthers game. They did enter the matchup at 2-0 and looking like the better opponent, but the Saints were shown the light. The defense was dominant all day, and Ted Ginn Jr. had some revenge against his former team. Never forget this was the turning point in the Saints’ season.

Week 4: at Miami Dolphins (London)

Pick: Saints, 28-20 (3-1)

Thoughts: I don’t see Jay Cutler beating the Saints in London. Don’t get me wrong. This was a playoff team last year, but you’re starting the season now with three straight road games (yes, technically Week 4 is a home game in London). That’s tough.

A shutout victory over Jay Cutler and the Dolphins. It wasn’t pretty in London, but overcoming the hundreds of penalties and getting back to 2-2 was an even bigger deal for the Saints. That Alvin Kamara fellow was pretty good too.

Week 6: Detroit Lions

Pick: Saints, 31-20 (4-1)

Thoughts: The Saints have lost three straight to the Lions in three straight years after winning four in a row from 2008-2012. This time around, they’ll be able to solve for Matthew Stafford and company to get a big home victory coming off their bye week.

They nearly blew their gigantic lead, but they didn’t. Powered by three defensive touchdowns, the Saints were able to deliver a 50-burger over the Lions.

Week 7: at Green Bay Packers

Pick: Packers, 27-24 (4-2)

Thoughts: The Saints are just 2-10 at Lambeau, with victories coming in 1971 and 2006. You could say they’re due after close games in 2011 and 2012, but the Packers have been pretty stellar at home since 2014 (19-5). I don’t see the Saints coming out on top here, despite a good showing.

In my defense, I definitely thought Aaron Rodgers would be playing in this game, and I’m sure you did too. Still, Brett Hundley was a slight problem at first and Drew Brees didn’t help with two bad interceptions, but the Saints made the halftime adjustments to escape Lambeau to get to 4-2.

Week 8: Chicago Bears

Pick: Saints, 30-13 (5-2)

Thoughts: Right before Halloween, we have Chicagoans in town. This has the makings of something fun outside of the game, but I feel we could be in Mitch Trubisky territory for the Bears. It’ll start close, but the Saints will dominate the second half to take this one.

Trubisky did end up showing up, and the Saints were able to get past two bad Mark Ingram fumbles to pick up their fifth straight victory of the season.

Week 9: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pick: Saints, 27-21 (6-2)

Thoughts: New Orleans has beat Tampa five out of the last six meetings at The Superdome. The Bucs are a better team overall, but they’ll come up just short in this one.

It was fun being one of those who thought the Bucs were actually going to be a better team than they really were. They imploded at the Superdome, and had it not been for a bad Willie Snead muffed punt, they might not have actually found the end zone all day.

So there you have it. The result is there, but not with the right game predictions. For fun, here’s a look at how I predicted the next three weeks to go for the Saints. It’s not that good, because I had them winning just one of their next three games.

Week 10: at Buffalo Bills

Pick: Bills, 24-20 (6-3)

Thoughts: You might say this is a trap game, and that’s because you’re probably right. I give a ton of credit in this matchup to Sean McDermott in this game, who has plenty of experience facing Drew Brees and the Saints.

Week 11: Washington Redskins

Pick: Redskins, 30-21 (6-4)

Thoughts: Dating back to 2006, the Redskins have won four out of five against the Saints. The lone Saints victory you can easily recall, as 2009’s comeback was just something amazing to watch. Still, Kirk Cousins goes toe-to-toe with Brees in this one, and Washington hands the Saints back-to-back losses.

Week 12: at Los Angeles Rams

Pick: Saints, 32-20 (7-4)

Thoughts: Sean Payton’s squad picks themselves back up after losing two in a row to pick on Jared Goff and company out west. Sadly for the Saints, Gregg Williams isn’t there any longer.