In preparation of the start of the NFL regular season, Mike Clay of ESPN just wrote a piece detailing how each of the 32 teams in the NFL can get to the 10-win benchmark for 2018 (Insider required).
For the New Orleans Saints, in spite of an incredibly tough schedule, Drew Brees can still lead this team to 10 wins:
How they can get to 10 wins: Despite the presence of superstar Drew Brees, the Saints have fallen short of eight wins four of the past six seasons. That changed in 2017, thanks primarily to an upgraded defense. New Orleans has the talent to eclipse 10 wins if their 39-year-old quarterback has another year of elite play in the tank and the defense gets competent play from offseason additions Marcus Davenport, Demario Davis, Patrick Robinson and Kurt Coleman.
Realistic expectations: The strength of the NFC is the Saints’ biggest roadblock to success. Facing Atlanta, Carolina and an underrated Tampa Bay team two times each, in addition to conference games against Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Minnesota, eats up nine of the team’s 16 games. That’s going to make winning a ton of games tough, but this team is talented enough that 10-plus wins is a strong bet.
My projection: 10.1 | Vegas over/under: 9.5
So you see that Mike Clay gives the Saints 10 wins for 2018.
Across the NFC South, he has the Atlanta Falcons with 9, and the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Carolina Panthers surprisingly at both 7 wins a piece.
If Mike were to nail all of his record predictions, the Saints would finish as champions of the NFC South for the second year in a row, but would lose out on a first round bye to the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Rams. The Minnesota Vikings would be the other divisional winner, and they would host the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the playoffs.
But that isn’t the only inter-divisional postseason matchup projection. According to Mike Clay, the Saints would host the rival Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans in the first round.
Oh what a world it would be.