The New Orleans Saints enter Wild Card weekend as the NFC’s No. 4 seed and find themselves taking on their NFC South rivals, the Carolina Panthers. After three straight 7-9 finishes, the team sees its first postseason action since 2013. The quest for Super Bowl 52 starts Sunday, with some picking Sean Payton’s squad to make it all the way. So, what makes the Saints a legitimate Super Bowl contender?
Brees will be making the 12th postseason appearance of his career, which includes one game with the Chargers in 2004. The bottom line? Drew Brees is pretty darn good in the playoffs, posting a 66 percent completion rate while totaling 3,539 yards passing with 24 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Arguably, there’s only one bad game he’s had in the postseason, going back to the 2013 playoffs against the Eagles on the road (a game where the Saints won 26-24).
The Saints offense, which hasn’t been nearly as dominant as it has been in the past, still finished 2nd in the NFL in total yards (6,259) and 4th in scoring (448). Their potent running back duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara has wreaked havoc on the opposition all season, each amassing over 1,500 yards from scrimmage (first RB duo to ever accomplish said feat). They’re a huge reason why the Saints are in the postseason this year, and coupled with Drew Brees and a top receiving threat like Michael Thomas, it could help propel New Orleans in the playoffs.
These aren’t your same old Saints that were the league’s punching bag on defense over the past few years. Anyone that has religiously followed this team has often found themselves saying, “If they just got a middle of the road type of defense, we’ll be in good shape.” Dennis Allen’s squad is 10th in the NFL in points allowed while coming in 17th in yards allowed.
They haven’t been perfect, but they’ve managed to work through a ton of injuries. For instance, they’ve lost the likes of Kenny Vaccaro, A.J. Klein, Alex Anzalone, Delvin Breaux, Alex Okafor, Nathan Stupar, and Nick Fairley, players that were either big pieces or key role players on defense.
Once again, rookies and young talent have essentially stolen the show for the Saints to help get them back to the postseason. Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Williams, and Trey Hendrickson have helped insert themselves in a big way in their first season, while second-year players like Ken Crawley, David Onyemata, Vonn Bell, and Sheldon Rankins have all contributed. Aside Lattimore and Cameron Jordan, none of these are real household names, but they have helped get the Saints this far and can’t be ignored while putting together a run in the playoffs.
Honestly, I don’t believe we’ve seen the full extent of tricks Sean Payton has in his arsenal at the ready. Week after week, this is a team that has preached the need to play a complete game, and how they’ve yet to play their best football. Now’s the time when you do that. Six Pro Bowlers on a team that is rallying behind their head coach who has their back.
This has been a different team, and that was the feeling around them since training camp. That has a lot, maybe everything, to do with Payton. Whether you view him as cocky, confident, arrogant, petty, or all of the above, Payton has tasted a Lombardi Trophy before, and those characteristics can help fuel this team getting back there. As far as play calls go, it’s time for him to fire on all cylinders to help get the Saints back to the Super Bowl.
The Saints are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
This poll is closed