Sunday, August 30, 2015

2015 NFL PREVIEW - New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS                            

2014 Record: 7-9-0 (2nd in NFC South)

HEAD COACH: Sean Payton

New Players in 2015 -  OL Max Unger; RB C.J. Spiller; LB Dannell Ellerbe; LB Anthony Spencer; DB Brandon Browner; DB Kyle Wilson.

OFFENSIVE RANK in 2014 -  1st in NFL (411.4 ypg)

DEFENSIVE RANK in 2014 -  31st in NFL (384 ypg)

Offense:  Quarterback Drew Brees had 4,952 passing yards last season with 33 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Veteran Luke McCown will hold the clip board.
Mark Ingram (964 rushing yards with a 4.3 ypc average and nine touchdowns) will lead the Saints running game once again. Khiry Robinson (362 yards, 4.8 ypc and three scores) and C.J. Spiller (300 rush yards and 19 receptions in just nine games with Buffalo last season) will back him up.
Leading receivers (tight end) Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills are gone entering 2015, leaving Brees with wideouts Marques Colston (59 receptions for 902 yards and five touchdowns) and Brandin Cooks, who made 53 receptions for 550 yards and three touchdowns. Nick Toon will look for more of a role this season after making 17 receptions for 215 yards and one touchdown.
While the Saints cannot replace Graham's numbers at tight end, they will have two players looking to fill the role as Benjamin Watson (20, 136, two TD) and Josh Hill (14, 176, five TD) will take over this season.
The O-Line has Max Unger, the player they traded Graham to Seattle for, playing center. The tackles are Terron Armstead and Zach Strief. Playing the guard spots will be Senio Kelemete and Jahri Evans. Top rookie pick is offensive tackle Andrus Peat (Stanford), who will look to get his chance as well.

Defense:  Up front in the 3-4 set is nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley along with ends Akiem Hicks and Cameron Jordan, who had 7 1/2 sacks a year ago. John Jenkins, Glenn Foster and Lawrence Virgil will rotate in up front.
The linebacking unit is comprised of outside men Parys Haralson (three sacks) and either Ronald Powell or Anthony Spencer. The inside backers are David Hawthorne and possibly rookie Stephone Anthony (Clemson) or Dannell Ellerbe.
The defensive backs include safeties Kenny Vaccaro (two interceptions) and Jairus Byrd along with cornerbacks Keenan Lewis (two picks) and free agent signee Brandon Browner, who left the New England Patriots after last season's Super Bowl winning season.

OUTLOOK FOR 2015 -  Quarterback Drew Brees can only do so much and last season seemed to be pressing, which resulted in numerous turnovers (Saints were a minus-13 in that category) that cost his team by season's end.
The Saints did lead the league on offense, averaging 411 yards per game while also putting up 25 points a game.
Running back Mark Ingram will be looking to crack the 1,000-yard plateau and help balance the offense and take some of the burden off Brees. Running back C.J. Spiller comes over from Buffalo to give Brees the outlet receiver he was lacking last year after Darren Sproles had gone to Philadelphia via free agency.
The defense was downright woeful in 2014 and New Orleans will be looking to some new talent this season to help turn that around after finishing 31st overall on defense by allowing 384 yards per game and 26.5 points per game.
Head Coach Sean Payton is entering his tenth season at the helm in New Orleans along with Brees and the duo will be looking to recapture some of the mojo that seemed to be sorely lacking a year ago.
The NFC South looks to be a three-way battle once again and the Tampa Bay Bucs are a team that could be on the rise as well, which would further crowd the field for the division title.
Look for a 9-7 turn around season for the Saints as they look to improve the defense and keep the offense moving along while limiting the mistakes and costly turnovers that ruined their 2014 season.
The playoffs are once again a realistic possibility in the Big Easy this year. 

Week 1 - at Arizona Cardinals
Week 2 - vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 3 - at Carolina Panthers
Week 4 - vs. Dallas Cowboys
Week 5 - at Philadelphia Eagles
Week 6 - vs. Atlanta Falcons
Week 7 - at Indianapolis Colts
Week 8 - vs. New York Giants
Week 9 - vs. Tennessee Titans
Week 10 - at Washington Redskins
Week 11 - BYE WEEK
Week 12 - at Houston Texans
Week 13 - vs. Carolina Panthers
Week 14 - at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 15 - vs. Detroit Lions
Week 16 - vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 17 - at Atlanta Falcons

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