The Saints got off to a good start in preseason play, downing the Kansas City Chiefs, 17-14, last Friday at the Superdome. The Raiders picked up a win of their own, beating the Dallas Cowboys 19-17 in Oakland later that night.
Meet the Saints
After losing head coach Sean Payton to a year-long suspension in the wake of the bounty scandal, a talented but inconsistent Saints team struggled through 2012 to finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. With Payton back on the sideline in 2013, New Orleans is hoping to get things moving back in the right direction. That shouldn't be a problem on the offensive side of the ball, where All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees will be spreading the pigskin around to a roster full of dangerous weapons, including tight end Jimmy Graham and wideout Marques Colston.
The performance of the team's defense will likely be the biggest factor for their success this season. The Saints ranked second-to-last in pass defense in 2012, surrendering over 290 yards per game through the air. They're hoping the additions of free agent cornerback Keenan Lewis and first-round pick Kenny Vaccaro will help shore up the secondary and improve a unit that gave up 31 passing touchdowns last season.
Meet the Raiders
The Raiders won just four games in 2012 and will be trying to climb back into contention in the AFC West this season. With Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers leading high-octane offenses elsewhere in the division, the Raiders will need to improve on an offense that scored just 28 touchdowns last season, compared to 50 by their opponents.
They've exchanged last year's quarterback, Carson Palmer, for the up-and-coming Matt Flynn, who they hope can emerge as a reliable starter after a career spent backing up Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. More interesting than Flynn's play on Friday will be the welcome he receives in the Superdome, where he led LSU to a national championship victory over Ohio State in 2008.
Local Takes: Saints
Win Ellington from Canal St. Chronicles wonders what type of welcome Flynn will receive upon his return to New Orleans:
Will Flynn's leading LSU to it's last National Championship six years ago earn him a special level of appreciation from Saints fans Friday night when he enters not as a home team favorite, but as the visiting quarterback? Would LSU fans in attendance clap for Flynn should he throw for one more touchdown pass in the Superdome considering it is just preseason? Or should Flynn be treated the same as any other opposing visiting quarterback and be subjected to a no-mercy policy as well?
Local Takes: Raiders
With most of the attention focused on Flynn, RDremer at Silver & Black Pride has his eye on Terrelle Pryor:
Anyone who watched the Dallas game could see that Terrelle Pryor has "it" as far as talent and ability. He's special. However, what separates the type of guy Pryor is from the type of guy Russell Wilson is would be decision-making. Russell Wilson doesn't tend to force the ball. He is a very cerebral player in addition to his loads of natural ability. Pryor hasn't yet shown himself to be that sort of guy, and he may never be. If Pryor can get it together between the ears and stop forcing things or trying to be macho and prove himself, he will basically be Randall Cunningham. If not, he's just Joe Webb.
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Pryor's mistakes and Flynn's poise should make Dennis Allen's starting quarterback decision easy http://t.co/TmQ91VU6MD— S&B Pride's Editors (@silverandblackp) August 11, 2013
Sad to hear about Jerry Romig's retirement as Superdome p.a. announcer but happy to hear the job will stay in the family with son Mark.— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) August 13, 2013
At Oakland Airport, headed to New Orleans where there's 40 percent chance of rain, 84 percent humidity and 100 percent chance of gumbo.— Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) August 15, 2013
The Saints are favored by five points against the Raiders, according to Oddsshark.