The 2020 schedule is out, and it’s about that time we start predicting what the Saints record will be, after staking out which opponents do or don’t meet the lofty criteria of what it takes to take them down.
Truthfully, there’s no way to predict the many variables that occur throughout any given season. There are always unforeseeable injuries, trades, mental breakdowns (i.e. Antonio Brown), or hell, even retirements (see Andrew Luck) that there is now possible way to see coming.
But that doesn’t stop us from making the predictions, no matter how many times we might change our minds before the season starts. Because that’s what makes it fun: The unpredictability.
While it is tough to account for the randomness of an NFL season, the Saints have proven they are a team to be reckoned over the past few seasons, and they are a tough team for anyone to beat. Not to mention, they’ve only gotten better this offseason.
So, barring the aforementioned “unforeseen” events, it seems safe to assume the team down on the bayou will be pretty darn good, yet again.
Now, as far as the schedule goes, there are plenty of challenges ahead.
The Saints play seven games against teams who had positive point differentials in 2019, including both teams who played in Super Bowl LIV (49ers, Buccaneers x2, Chiefs, Eagles, Packers, Vikings). Not to mention, the NFC South foes in Tampa Bay are almost certain to be a better team than they were last year, after adding Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to the mix.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Saints have the ninth-toughest schedule in 2020.
The good news is that things change every year, and teams who currently look like tough outs on the schedule could take a step back, even though the inverse is true for the teams who were bad in 2019. The bad news is that the seven teams I previously mentioned show little evidence of regression.
The Bucs obviously should be better. The Chiefs and Niners are set for another year of contention. The Vikings lost Stefon Diggs, but reloaded with Justin Jefferson. Plus, they added two young studs at corner in Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler to shore up their secondary.
The Packers weren’t quite as good as their record would have indicated last year (went 13-3 but had the ninth-best point differential in the league), but they do still have Aaron Rodgers and a young, ascending defense. They might as well have balled up their 2020 draft and thrown it in the garbage can while yelling “Kobe!”, but they still have the ingredients for a team with a winning record.
The Eagles finally got Carson Wentz a new playmaker in Jalen Reagor and found a competent cornerback through free agency, with Darius Slay. If they can stay relatively healthy, I wouldn’t sleep on them.
Despite all of this, I think the Saints win more than they lose out of these seven matchups, simply because they’re better than most good teams when they’re at their best. They’re a great team, with few weaknesses. Barring health, I see them beating most teams in most scenarios, period. It’s that simple.
Now, this is where it gets weird. Because the schedule never works out the way we expect it to, there’s always going to be a weird loss to a bad team that comes out of nowhere. Need I remind you of Week 10 vs. the Falcons last year?
The other nine games on the schedule come against teams with negative point differentials in 2019. In my estimation, the Saints will go 7-2 in these games. Simply because at least two of these teams end up being better than expected.
I don’t know who it will be, but it’s far from a hot take to expect the unexpected when anticipating a few teams to overachieve in any given season. Remember, at this point last offseason, we were more worried about Andrew Luck and the Colts than ole Jimmy Garoppolo the Niners.
With this being said, I still expect the Saints to contend for the NFC title and the Super Bowl, yet again. Getting a bye in the first round will be tougher than ever with the new playoff format, but I would imagine they’ll be right in the thick of that race.
Fighting through the NFC playoffs without a bye would be tough, but they’re more than capable of making a run, nonetheless.
All in all, I see another highly successful regular season for New Orleans.
What do you think the Saints’ record will be in 2020? Be sure and let us know what you think in the comments! Also make sure to follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter @SaintsCSC, like us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. And of course, you can follow me on Twitter @andy_b_123.