Sunday, August 28, 2016

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS - 2016 Season Preview

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS                                                                       

2015 Record:  7-9-0

Head Coach:  Sean Payton

New Faces for 2016 - TE Coby Fleener, DL Nick Fairley, LB James Laurinaitis, LB Craig Robertson, LB Nate Stupar

OFFENSE:  Returning for eleventh season as the Saints' starting quarterback is Drew Brees, who led the NFL in passing yardage last season with 4,870 yards to go with 32 touchdowns and only eleven interceptions. Luke McCown backs up the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback.
Mark Ingram leads the running game and is coming off a season in which he was banged up, missing four games while amassing 769 yards (4.6 ypc average) and scoring six touchdowns. Tim Hightower (375 yards, 3.9 ypc, four TD) is in the backfield as well.  C.J. Spiller (112 rushing yards along with 34 receptions and two receiving TD) is a decent third down back. Travaris Cadet is another option in the running game.
The wide receiving corps has Brandin Cooks (84 receptions for 1,138 yards and nine TD) starting along with either rookie Michael Thomas (Ohio State) or Willie Snead, who had 69 receptions last season for 984 yards and three scores. Brandon Coleman (45, 520, four TD) and perhaps WR/TE Josh Hill (16, 120, two TD) will add into the mix as well.
Coby Fleener comes aboard a the tight end after Benjamin Watson left for Baltimore. Fleener played with Indianapolis last season and made 54 catches for 491 yards and three touchdowns.

DEFENSE:  Nick Fairley and John Jenkins are the tackles in the 4-3 alignment along with ends Cameron Jordan (ten QB sacks) and Hau'oli Kikaha, who had four sacks. Rookie Sheldon Rankins (Louisville) could have an impact up front while Bobby Richardson and Tyeler Davison will rotate in when needed.
James Laurinaitis comes over from the Rams to play middle linebacker while Dannell Ellerbe and Stephone Anthony man the outside spots. Craig Robertson, Michael Mauti and Nate Stupar are the back up linebackers.
The safeties include Jairus Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro. The cornerbacks are Delvin Breaux (three interceptions) and Keenan Lewis. Rookie Vonn Bell (Ohio State) could help immediately while Jamarca Sanford will fill in at the other safety spot. Reserve corners include Damian Swann and Kyle Wilson. 

OUTLOOK:  The Saints were a disappointment last year, but Drew Brees and company continue to do their thing as the offense finished second in the NFL a year ago, averaging 404 yards per game and was number one in passing (311 yards per game) while averaging 25.5 points per game.
Not bad ... except the defense gave it all back and then some while ranking 31st in all three defensive categories. New Orleans allowed just under 30 points per game (last in the NFL) and gave up 40-plus points three times last season. An improved pass rush is a must after just 31 QB sacks a year ago.
To help solve the issues on defense, the Saints brought in some veteran talent in Nick Fairley (DT) and James Laurinaitis (LB) while picking two players (a defensive lineman and strong safety) in the NFL Draft.
Head Coach Sean Payton always has the offense clicking with Brees at the controls, it's just the defense that needs to get it together after two very sub par seasons in a row. That is the key to New Orleans returning back to playoff contention this season as they attempt to overtake the Carolina Panthers in the NFC South.
Look for another season of high flying antics and lighting up the scoreboards as the Saints attempt to get back to the playoffs for the first time in three years.

Fearless forecast -  8-8 this year

Week 1 - vs. Oakland
Week 2 - at NY Giants
Week 3 - vs. Atlanta
Week 4 - at San Diego
Week 5 - BYE
Week 6 - vs. Carolina
Week 7 - at Kansas City
Week 8 - vs. Seattle
Week 9 - at San Francisco
Week 10 - vs. Denver
Week 11 - at Carolina
Week 12 - vs. Los Angeles
Week 13 - vs. Detroit
Week 14 - at Tampa Bay
Week 15 - at Arizona
Week 16 - vs. Tampa Bay
Week 17 - at Atlanta

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