The kickoff of the 2017 New Orleans Saints season begins with a renewed, yet cautious optimism. After three consecutive 7-9 seasons, its easy to understand why so many fans are reluctant to get their hopes up in regards to this Saints team being a contender in the NFC South. The truth is the Saints have made some very significant moves to take them from middling mediocrity into a playoff contention this season. While a Super Bowl run seems very unlikely for them this year, there’s no better place to start a whimsical scenario than in the Twin Cities against the Minnesota Vikings.
Super Bowl LII will be played right where the 2017 Saints season begins this Monday Night, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. If the Saints expect to return to this building in February of 2018 a LOT of things will need to go just right. Possibly none more important from the very beginning than winning this first game in Minnesota.
This 2017 season has been considered by many Saints faithful as the YOLO season. This offseason saw some much needed cap relief finally come the Saints way after years of being the NFL’s worst salary cap offender. Two seasons of actually solid and sound drafting may pay big dividends for the Saints. Finally, and most notably, the Saints have made some big transitions in their coaching ranks that have been long overdue. These moves may be the most instrumental part of turning a disappointing team into a true contender.
This is the season the Saints have to put it all together before its time to really look at “breaking up the band” and moving into the premature future at coach and quarterback. They say “You Only Live Once” and there’s no time like the present for the Saints to make the most out of all they have assembled this offseason. Winning here in Week 1 is of the upmost importance. After months and months of waiting, Saints football has returned, and I couldn't be happier to see the Black and Gold once again.
All season and postseason, Wallace Delery of Canal Street Chronicles will be presenting you with each and every game on the NFL schedule along with my pick for each game. It's been a long wait for this season to begin, so lets get started.
Thursday, September 7th - NFL Kickoff 2017
New England will once again drop another Super Bowl Championship banner in Gillette Stadium, and once again be the hands-down favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Kansas City, while arguably a top-five team in the AFC this year, will have a difficult time beating the defending champs in Foxboro. KC’s defense keeps the game close but the Pats will pick up their first of many wins this year. We’ll see about next week though.
Sunday, September 10th - Early Games
The Jets enter the season with arguably the weakest roster in the NFL, while Buffalo looks to finally turn the corner and earn a winning season. The Jets got the better of Buffalo last season but they’ll be lucky to get the better of anyone this year.
This has the makings of a nosedive season for Washington, leaving an opening for the upstarts from Philadelphia to make waves in the NFC East. The game will be close and exciting but Philly will come through with a close win on the road.
Expect Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray and Oakland’s Marshawn Lynch to have big games in this one. Both teams will be serious contenders to win their respective divisions after falling just short a season ago. This will be a good game, with Oakland pulling out a close victory on the road.
This game has been postponed until Week 11.
Jacksonville enters another season with hope and promise, but will once again face disappointment right from the start as they go against the stout Houston defense, who will be playing for the pride of their devastated city.
Detroit caught a lot of breaks last season, especially at home, but don't expect that to carry over into this year, especially against one of the NFL’s top defensive units in 2016. Arizona keeps most of those defensive pieces in place this season. Once again, it is the offensive albatross of quarterback Carson Palmer that will keep them from attaining greater heights. Arizona wins this one on the road despite their quarterback.
The Falcons are simply a much better football team than the Bears. Chicago fields an also-ran veteran quarterback in Mike Glennon as well as an under-pressure rookie quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky. Meanwhile Atlanta fields the reigning NFL MVP in quarterback Matt Ryan. The one thing that Atlanta has to face that Chicago doesn't though, is that Atlanta has to live with the fact that they are the franchise that surrendered a TWENTY-FIVE point lead in the Super Bowl just seven months ago.
That type of trauma doesn't just vanish without leaving real and permanent scars. The Falcons will be under fire from the 28-3 debacle for the entirety of the season. We’ve seen may teams over the years struggle to rebound from tough Super Bowl losses the following year, but none anywhere as tough as this. This game will have little to do with Chicago and how much they improved, if at all from last year, and everything to do with Atlanta’s tremendous burden to rid themselves of the shame and ridicule that was self-imposed in front of a worldwide audience in Houston this past February. This will be a long and sobering season for the Atlanta Falcons.
Baltimore has been ravaged by injury before the season has even started. They find themselves in a tough spot right off the bat, by traveling to Cincinnati to face their divisional rivals. Cincy is a team looking to rebound after a severely disappointing season in 2016. They will take advantage of a hobbled Baltimore team as well as homefield to pick up a big win to open the season.
Pittsburgh’s talent, depth, and experience put them alongside Oakland as the second-best team in the AFC for this season, and they’ll begin the season by doing what they consistently do, beating Cleveland.
Sunday, September 10th - Late Games
Indy is just a mess, from the top down, simply a mess. Andrew Luck basically is the Colts franchise at this point, and without him to start the year they're a franchise adrift. Wade Phillips’ patient and calculating defense will choke-out the lifeless Indy offense in Los Angeles. The Rams won't need to do a whole lot to pick up the win here at home.
For a good stretch there, Seattle owned the Packers and imposed their will on them. In recent seasons though, Green Bay has turned the tables on the Seahawks. Green Bay is not nearly as talented or deep as many believe them to be, but Aaron Rodgers makes all the difference in the world for them. Rodgers’ talents and a strong homefield advantage will be the key factors in the Packers’ home win over Seattle.
San Francisco’s transformation from a broken-down, former defensive powerhouse into a high-octane offensive threat will be a slow and awkward transition. Super Bowl hero Kyle Shanahan’s team will struggle this season, especially early on, allowing Carolina without a fully healthy Cam Newton to open the season with a road victory.
Sunday Night Football
The Giants have just had Dallas’ number in recent meetings. The games have been close, tense, and memorable. Expect this game to be no different. AT&T Stadium has been Eli Manning’s house since its opening and his Giants will once again put their stamp of ownership on JerryWorld™.
Monday, September 11th - Monday Night Football
Saints at Vikings
This is the one we’ve all been waiting for. By no means is it hyperbole to suggest this is absolutely the biggest game of the Saints’ 2017 campaign. A loss here in Week 1 would continue a disturbing trend of the Saints falling behind in the win/loss column early on and having to dig themselves out of a hole for the remainder of the season that they are incapable of overcoming.
A win here to open the season sets the Saints up for long-term success this year. The defense has shown promise and given the fans hope coming into this contest, while the offense has been the one constant in excellence during the Drew Brees/Sean Payton partnership. The Saints defense can gain some serious confidence by pinning down Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook and their anemic running attack of a season ago. The offense may not light up the scoreboard right off the bat, as they face one of 2016’s top-three defenses, but a solid showing on the road against such a good defense will give the Saints and their fans all the confidence they need.
Simply put, the Saints need to win this game, they have to win this game, and they will. The hope and promise of the 2017 season rides on this game, and behind the efforts of Adrian Peterson looking to make the Vikings look quite foolish, the Saints will win this pivotal game. Saints win 28-20.
Denver feels like a franchise in flux at the moment. This is not the same franchise that won the Super Bowl just two seasons ago. The defense, while still talented, is mostly a shadow of that dominant 2015 unit and will have to do a lot to make up for their shortcomings on offense. A team that is absolutely in flux everywhere but on the field is the Los Angeles Chargers.
A new city, a small, borrowed stadium, and a lackluster welcome from their home market has made the Bolts a bit of an outcast at home, but maybe playing an old rival in a stadium they’ve played in many, many times will make them feel more at ease and more “at home” than anything they’ve felt in their actual home. Los Angeles will pick up a surprise win that really shouldn't be much of a surprise at all.
That's how I see it, tell us how you see Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season unfolding. Leave your comments and insight below. Finally, Saints football is back! WHO DAT!!!