At the end of January, I proudly gave you Five Insane (But Not Impossible) Predictions for the 2014 New Orleans Saints. For those who forgot, this is what I had stated back then:
- Crowded Backfield Means The Saints Trade Away/Release Someone
- Injuries? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That – The Saints Go Total Youth Movement
- The Saints Lose Starters on the O-Line, Yet Again – But BOTH Leave This Season
- Jimmy Graham Holds Out
- The Saints Trade Drew Brees
Obviously, not all of these ended up true, and we are thankfully happy about the last one. Strief looked to leave, but we were able to wrangle him back in on a long-term deal. Now that OTAs and minicamp are over, it’s time to look at some more insane (but not impossible) predictions for the 2014 New Orleans Saints.
Final roster decisions will send Joe Morgan and/or Andy Tanner packing.
This won’t be a popular way to start this article off, but hear me out. The Saints have had a five running back roster for the past couple of years now. Tim Flanders is an undrafted rookie free agent that could actually make the team’s final roster. Here’s where it potentially causes a problem. With the team’s starting rosters last season, there were a lot of times the Saints would dress five running backs and five wide receivers. In a crowded wide receiver battle, it doesn’t mean good things for Nick Toon, Joe Morgan, Andy Tanner, Charles Hawkins, and Robert Meachem. From the looks of it, Nick Toon had a strong minicamp. Meachem’s experience as a veteran should make him stay. So with that final spot, I believe it hinders on how healthy Joe Morgan is. He hasn’t participated in OTAs and minicamp, and will have to shine in training camp and preseason to stay on the roster. It could yield way to Tanner, who has tried to crack the Saints 53-man roster for years.
Derek Dimke will win the starting kicker job.
Despite a contract, Shayne Graham is not a lock to be the Saints kicker in 2014. I’ve been fairly high on Dimke in various articles, and firmly believe that he will challenge Graham for the team’s starting job. The two have been fairly perfect in kick-for-kick matches thus far, and I think it will boil down to the long-range game, something that Graham does not have the advantage in. Further to my point, Graham went 4/9 in 50+ yard field goal tries in 2012 with the Houston Texans. Not having a kicker that could boot a long field goal when needed doesn’t work for the New Orleans Saints offense. I’m saying that Dimke wins the job in the preseason.
The Saints offensive line will surrender less than 20 sacks on Drew Brees this season.
From 2006-2009, Drew Brees was never sacked more than 20 times in a season. Those numbers didn’t have a drastic rise until last season, when Brees was sacked a record 37 times. I don’t believe the sole addition of Jonathan Goodwin makes my case for my statement, but I do believe that the seasoned mix of veterans coupled with the ‘shot in the arm’ of Terron Armstead should make this happen. A lot of the Saints problems were in the middle last year, and it’s not necessarily pointing the blame on Brian de la Puente, but you could see the confusion on reads that allowed Brees to be sacked. I look for this unit to return to form.
The Saints will sweep the NFC South.
In the history of the NFC South, there has never been a sweep of the division. Since 2002, there have been some teams that flirted with a sweep, but finished out 5-1. This is the year where all of that changes. I don’t believe that the NFC South is weak, but I do believe there is some drop off from last season, and the Saints only got better. Do the math. Of course, my claim weighs heavily on how that final game in the Superdome winds up in Week 16. We could see backups in at that point.
The Saints will have three 10+ sack leaders in 2014.
When you think about last year’s sack production, it was the most by a Saints defense since 2001. After the season, I wrote an article about how the defensive turnaround should be praised. The 2000 Saints club, who set a franchise record for most sacks with 66, were led by three key pieces: La’Roi Glover (17), Joe Johnson (12), and Darren Howard (11). We already have Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette coming off of 10+ sack seasons, and my money is on Akiem Hicks (a huge breakout candidate) to potentially become that third player to hit the mark.
What do you think, Who Dat Nation? Which of these seems like it will happen? Let us know below!