NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
2016 Record - 7-9-0
Head Coach - Sean Payton
Offensive Rank - 1st (426 yards per game, 29.3 points scored per game)
Defensive Rank - 27th (375 yards allowed per game, 28.4 points allowed per game)
Drew Brees just keeps getting it done at quarterback, passing for 5,208 yards along with 37 touchdowns and15 interceptions last year for the top offense in the NFL. Chase Daniel is the backup.
The running backs are Mark Ingram (1,043 yards and six TD) and Adrian Peterson, who is coming off an injury filled season in Minnesota and looking to jump start his career in the Big Easy.
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks left for New England, making Michael Thomas (92 receptions for 1,173 yards and nine TD) and Willie Snead (72, 895, four TD) the top wideouts this season. Coby Fleener (50, 631, three TD) is the tight end.
Cameron Jordan (7 1/2 QB sacks) leads the defense along with Sheldon Rankins in the trenches while Manti Te'o arrives from San Diego to play linebacker. Rankins will be filling the role of Nick Fairley, who is out this season with health issues stemming from a heart condition.
Rookies Marshon Lattimore (cornerback-Ohio State) and Marcus Williams (safety-Utah) may very well start this season in the Saints secondary. Kenny Vaccaro (two INT) will play the other safety spot while Devon Breaux and P.J. Williams look to bounce back from injuries last season.
OUTLOOK FOR 2017 - With Brees leading the offense, the Saints are almost always in the game, depending on how the defense is playing that particular game. Last season, the defense was very poor, allowing 375 yards and over 28 points per game.
The Saints can get back to being a playoff team if the defense can improve this season, but that could be asking a lot from a unit that regularly gets torched in the secondary, thus the move of possibly having two rookies starting.
There is no question the offense will light up the scoreboard as long as Brees remains healthy. If Adrian Peterson can do half of what he has done in his career with the Vikings, then watch out this season.
Catching up to the other three teams in the NFC South won't be easy, but the Saints have gone through it before and even won a Super Bowl (2009 season) following a down year. The likelihood of that happening in 2017 is probably not a realistic goal this season. The Saints probably finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
Week One - at Minnesota
Week Two - vs. New England
Week Three - at Carolina
Week Four - at Miami (London, England)
Week Five - BYE
Week Six - vs. Detroit
Week Seven - at Green Bay
Week Eight - vs. Chicago
Week Nine - vs. Tampa Bay
Week Ten - at Buffalo
Week Eleven - vs. Washington
Week Twelve - at LA Rams
Week Thirteen - vs. Carolina
Week Fourteen - at Atlanta
Week Fifteen - vs. NY Jets
Week Sixteen - vs. Atlanta
Week Seventeen - at Tampa Bay