Mister Obvious Says – Already dangerous QB Drew Brees will play behind an improved offensive line with Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller running the ball. Don’t be surprised to see Brees revert to his days of passing for more than 5,000 yards with close to 40 touchdowns. A decrease in production should not occur from last year when the Saints led the NFL in total offensive yards despite top receivers Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills departing. WR Brandin Cooks, a second-year player and featured in the September 2013 issue of Kandy, figures to have a breakout season as a big-play player among New Orleans’ deep receiving corps.
Biggest Additions – New Orleans obtained Pro Bowl center Max Unger from Seattle in the Jimmy Graham trade; it was an obvious trade to protect the Saints most important player, Brees. Spiller’s acquisition gives New Orleans an effective backup running back behind Ingram.
Biggest Losses – Graham’s absence puts the onus on 12-year veteran TE Benjamin Watson to fill the void. Stills, who had 931 receiving yards last year, signed with Miami.
Rookie To Watch – Another talented LB from Washington’s program Hau’oli Kikaha is making quite an impression on New Orleans head coach Sean Payton and his defensive coaches. The second-rounder will be in the mix with the Saints’ pass-rush schemes this year. He had a school-record 32 sacks at Washington in his career, including a nation’s best 19 last year.
Marquee Match-up – Dallas comes to town in Week 4.
Game Most Likely To Win – Week 16 against Jacksonville at home.
Game Most Likely to Lose – Week 5 at Philadelphia, a week after playing Dallas.
Overall Thoughts – New Orleans’ success this season is predicated on a higher volume of skilled players rather than having elite players with questionable backups. Brees is not getting any younger at 36. This could be a season he makes one of his final pushes for a deep playoff run. The Saints look better equipped to make that happen. The defense is young, but talented, which means it might take time to develop. It will be fun for Payton to see if it get better as the season goes along.
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