Two seasons removed from their Super Bowl victory and the Saints still have a talented team capable of winning another. With a powerful offense led by Drew Brees and a defense being called by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the Saints stand a good chance to win their division and make the playoffs for a third straight year. But a tough early schedule will probably keep them grounded. Record: 11-5
Best Game On The Schedule
There are a few good ones, including the league opener against Green Bay and a Sunday night Super Bowl XLIV rematch against the Colts. But I think the most important game will end up being a Monday night divisional battle against the Falcons the day after Christmas. It could have epic consequences.
Player Who Takes A Step Back This Year
I'm going to go with the entire Saints defense on this one. Last year, unbeknownst to many, they were the 4th best overall defense in the league. But from what I've seen thus far during preseason - though I know it's not fair to really judge - I'm a little worried they're going to drop off a bit. The run defense hasn't looked very hot. They're also not very deep behind the starters so any injuries to key players could really set them back.
Breakout Player Candidates
Without a doubt I think all NFL fans will know who tight end Jimmy Graham is by the end of this season, if they don't already. He showed flashes of brilliance last year in his rookie season and so far this preseason he appears to be picking up right where he left off. In fact, he's quickly become Drew Brees' favorite target. Look for him to have a monster year.
Best Saints Player Others Have Never Heard Of
Neither of these guys may even make the final 53-man roster or get a lot of playing time if they do but running back Joique Bell and wide receiver Joe Morgan have both had a hell of a preseason. Keep an eye on both of these guys.
This is always a tough question because I never know what outsiders think about the Saints and their players but I will go with safety Malcolm Jenkins as underrated. Now in his third year Jenkins has become a vocal leader of the defense alongside Jonathan Vilma. He was instrumental in working with rookie players during the dark days of the lockout. On the field, he's arguably the best player out there and without him, the team seems to fall apart. Yet I doubt many NFL fans would consider him one of the best free safety's in the league. I think that's wrong.
Fantasy Football Outlook
Drew Brees is probably the surest bet of any player on the Saints roster to put up points on a regular basis each week. Also, all signs point to Jimmy Graham having a breakout year, which could mean big points in fantasy football. My sleeper pick would have to be running back Mark Ingram. Even though he's a rookie, he's looked good so far this preseason and he's likely to get a lot of the goaline carries for the team this year. I have a rule that I never draft Saints receivers, however. Because Payton and Brees like to spread the ball around, there isn't a true No. 1 receiver on the roster and you never know who's going to have a big day.
Best Media Personality In New Orleans
Personally, I think that the New Orleans area has been lacking a great media personality. But if I had to choose one, I'd probably go with WWL's Jim Henderson. He's the play-by-play voice of the Saints and is well-known for his calls during the franchises most memorable moments.
Best Player To Follow On Twitter
It definitely used to be Jeremy Shockey and then Darren Sharper but since they're no longer with the team, I guess I can't mention them. So I will have to go with cornerback Leigh Torrence, which is probably a surprise to most. He's a smart guy and pretty funny.