2015 New Orleans Saints Preview

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Oct 5, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Khiry Robinson (29) runs past Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) in the second half of their game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

First Quarter Record:  1-4

Week 1:  The New Orleans Saints’ opening-weekend bout with the Arizona Cardinals is going to be difficult.  Even though Arizona is weakened by injuries at key positions like right tackle,  right guard, wideout, and in the defensive front seven, they were a playoff team last year and are returning with a healthy Carson Palmer at quarterback.  The Saints are themselves hurt all over the defense with Keenan Lewis and Jairus Byrd both expected to miss the season-opener.  Second-year playmaking wideout John Brown will be a huge test for Delvin Breaux’s NFL debut, while the Saints’ own Brandin Cooks should match up well against the overrated Patrick Peterson.  I don’t see the Saints escaping with a win here on the road, but they should keep it close.  Final score:  25-18, Saints lose.

Week 2:  In Week Two, the Saints kick off at home in New Orleans against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Both teams have improved in the offseason and Tampa Bay features a formidable defensive line rotation, but it should be manageable with Max Unger in tow.  Tampa Bay still has a very soft secondary that Sean Payton can exploit with matchups.  Expect Cooks to have a big game here against a back seven without an answer for him.  Final score: 30-14, Saints win.

Week 3:  The Saints travel to Carolina for a rough road game against Cam Newton and a couple of traffic cones set up to spell “offensive line” in Morse code.  Newton lacks any kind of reliable protection which the Saints should be wise to attack.  Unfortunately, Carolina’s defense is built to oppose all the things the Saints like to do on offense:  it can stop the run thanks to a deep defensive line, and its linebackers are able to cover almost any of the Saints’ offensive weapons.  This should be another physical, low-scoring affair on the road.  Final score:  17-14, Saints lose.

Week 4:  The Dallas Cowboys embarrassed the Saints on a national stage last year and are coming back for round two on Sunday night in Week Four.  Dallas is going to bring its young and dominant offensive line up against whatever Rob Ryan (or Dennis Allen) has to throw at it, but the addition of La’el Collins at left guard should be enough to give him pause.  There’s no reason this game should not be close, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Saints pull off an upset in prime time.  But my gut says this match is too lopsided and the green Saints’ defense will struggle to keep the pace with a Dallas offense running on all cylinders.  Final score:  38-30, Saints lose.

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