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New Orleans Saints Have a Top Offense and Defense in the NFL

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It’s been a long time since the Saints didn’t have a historically bad defense.

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

NFL rosters are coming into focus now after the completion of the 2018 NFL Draft, and analysts around the NFL are starting to grade the caliber of each NFL team’s roster. Bleacher Report gave separate rankings for the offense and defense of each NFL team.

On offense, the Saints came in incredibly high, with the #3 overall ranked offense in the NFL, #2 in the NFC:

Pete Carmichael has served as coordinator since 2009 and will head the offense again in 2018 with a 39-year-old Drew Brees under center.

A year ago, Brees got to relax a bit, attempting 536 passes over 16 games, his first dip below the 600-mark since—get this—2009. He still threw for 4,334 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions, yet he turned most of the offense over to Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara.

Kamara ran for 728 yards and eight touchdowns on only 120 attempts, boasting a 6.1-yard-per-carry average. He chipped in 81 catches on 100 targets, adding 826 yards and five scores.

While Kamara came up shy in rushing touchdowns behind Mark Ingram’s 12, he tied Michael Thomas for the team lead in receiving scores with five.

All those guys return in 2018. And the big add is Cameron Meredith, a restricted free agent they swiped from the Chicago Bears. Meredith was a breakout stud in 2016, tallying 888 yards and four touchdowns before hurting his knee and missing 2017. Keep in mind those numbers came while catching passes from Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer.

Don’t forget about interesting wideout depth in the form of Ted Ginn and Brandon Coleman, as well as third-round rookie Tre’quan Smith. Brees is cooling off on the quantity, but the quality is still there, and with Meredith’s breakout potential joining the fray, there is little defenses can do to stop it.

On defense, the Saints didn’t come in quite as high, but still a respectable #11 overall ranked defense:

The New Orleans Saints made an aggressive draft-day trade to acquire pass-rusher Marcus Davenport at No. 14 overall. Expect the University of Texas at San Antonio product to see the field and assist Cameron Jordan in rushing off the edge. He’ll add to the team’s impressive 42-sack total.

The secondary features Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore at cornerback. Patrick Robinson is coming off one of his best years (four interceptions, 18 pass breakups with the Philadelphia Eagles). Despite a divisional-round gaffe against the Minnesota Vikings, safety Marcus Williams flashed ball skills as a rookie.

New Orleans should find ways to pressure teams up front with Jordan, Davenport and Sheldon Rankins. The defensive backs will generate takeaways on the back end.

Two questions pose potential flaws for the Saints: Can the interior defenders increase their push at the line of scrimmage to stop the run? The group ranked 16th last year. Also: Will the linebackers alongside newcomer Demario Davis stay healthy enough to maintain solid second-level play?

I took the overall rankings of each NFL team’s offense and defense according to Bleacher Report, and made a total composite ranking for the team. Only four teams in the NFL had a better overall combination of offense and defense, including the divisional rival Atlanta Falcons, the perennial Super Bowl contender New England Patriots, the reigning Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, and the 2018 offseason juggernaut Los Angeles Rams. The Saints were tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Do you agree with Bleacher Report’s rankings? Personally, I’m shocked the Falcons were given the #6 overall defense and the Patriots were given the #1 ranked offense. Both of those rankings carried their respective teams to high composite scores.