Smiley Anders: New Orleans Saints fun to watch, but…
It’s time for my Fearless Football Forecast for the New Orleans Saints, and I wish I had better news for Saints fans.
But it’s something of a rebuilding year, and despite the presence of a great quarterback, Drew Brees, the youngsters won’t be able to lead the team of the playoffs this year.
Still, they’ll play some exciting, wide-open football, and it will be a most entertaining season, with the Saints hanging tough in virtually all their games.
Nice start, guys
In something of an upset, the lads in black and gold defeat the vastly improved Oakland Raiders in their first regular season game in the Superdome. A rowdy crowd has a great time booing the boys in black and silver, and some Raiders fans who show up in their “Pirates from Hell” attire.
A road game in New York leads to a loss against the Giants, as New Orleans guy Eli Manning picks the young pass defense apart, and his fellow New Orleans guy Odell Beckham Jr. has a field day catching balls from him.
Take that, dirty birds!
Back in the Dome, it’s an always welcome victory over the struggling Atlanta Falcons before a national audience in an ESPN Monday nighter.
This one is special for Drew Brees. The Saints visit the San Diego Chargers, Drew’s former team that cut him lose a decade ago. In an emotional performance, Brees leads the Saints to a solid victory.
Cam & The Cats
After an early bye, the 3-1 New Orleans guys notch another win in the Dome as they surprise Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, with Brees teaming up with receiver Brandin Cooks to put on a passing and catching show.
Chiefly a disappointment
The high-flying Saints are brought rudely back to earth by the Kansas City Chiefs in a road game that shows some holes in the defense that don’t bode well for upcoming encounters.
A rare home loss is provided courtesy of the defensive-minded Seattle Seahawks, who leave the Dome with a close win.
Back on track
The Saints finish the first half of the season at an encouraging 5-3, as they take care of the woeful San Francisco 49ers in the Dome.
No Manning, no problem
The Denver Broncos, minus Peyton Manning, prove they still have that Super Bowl mojo by walloping the Saints in the Superdome.
In a dreaded Thursday night contest, the Saints fall to the Panthers on the road, as Cam Newton has one of his best performances of the season.
Rams get whammed
Back on a Sunday and back in the Dome, the black and gold defeat the St. Louis (pardon me, Los Angeles) Rams with a rare solid running game, led by Mark Ingram and the long-dormant C.J. Spiller.
Lions vs. Christians
The visiting Detroit Lions win a close one in the Superdome, a high-scoring affair featuring much passing and not much defense.
The first meeting with division rivals Tampa Buccaneers show the visiting Saints that the Bucs are a vastly improved team, as Jameis Winston leads the Bucs to a win over the suddenly struggling Saints defense.
The swoon goes on
The Saints lose their third straight game as they pay a visit to the Arizona Cardinals and watch two LSU guys, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu, play some inspired pass defense and make it a long day for Brees and the Saints receivers.
Bashing the Bucs
As their season goes south, the boys from New Orleans return to the friendly confines of the Dome to salvage some pride with a welcome victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as young receiver Michael Thomas has his best game of his short career and offers hope for the future.
The Saints wind up a less than satisfying season with a most satisfying road win over their division foes, the Atlanta Falcons, to end the season at 8-8, better than last season’s 7-9 but still not good enough to make the playoffs.
Still, the youthful players show a ton of promise for the next year, and Drew Brees vows to end his Hall of Fame career with a last hurrah.
So get ready for a dramatic run in 2017.