Aug 22, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) celebrates with teammates wide receiver Brandon Coleman (16) and tackle Zach Strief (64)following a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the second quarter of a preseason game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Third Quarter Record: 4-0
Week 9: The arrival of Marcus Mariota has brought hope to Tennessee, but that may take some time to translate into wins. For now he’s surrounded by unproven wideouts, a decent tight end in Delanie Walker, and a revolving door of solid running backs including David Cobb, Dexter McCluster, Bishop Sankey, and Terrance West. On defense the Titans were smart to invest in fast linebackers and versatile defensive backs, but they struggle to tackle at all three levels (not unlike the Saints). This is the first back-to-back home game on the Saints’ schedule and they should seize the opportunity to come away with a win. Final score: 27-14, Saints win.
Week 10: The Saints are hitting the road again and landing in the capital city of dysfunctional organizations, both private sector and public. Washington lacks playmakers on both sides of the ball and is apparently expecting Ryan Kerrigan to waste away on a directionless team. New general manager Scott McCloughan is a talented evaluator but head coach Jay Gruden is lacking. The Saints shouldn’t register as more than another loss en route to Washington drafting first overall next spring. Final score: 40-10, Saints win.
Week 11: Bye week.
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Week 12: The Houston Texans are an interesting team. They are poised to have a great defense led by the best football player on this planet in J.J. Watt with a supporting cast featuring some playmaking veterans like Vince Wilfork, Jadeveon Clowney, Brian Cushing, Kareem Jackson, and rookies including Kevin Johnson (Wake Forest), Benardrick McKinney (Mississippi State), and Christian Covington (Rice). Fortunately for the Saints, there isn’t much to like on Houston’s offense. Head coach Bill O’Brien is charged with making something out of one of the worst quarterback situations in the NFL. The team doesn’t have much receiving talent outside of DeAndre Hopkins, but they could lean on a strong running game behind one of the league’s better offensive lines if Arian Foster is back from injury. This should be a challenging road game for New Orleans, but I like their odds coming off of a bye week. Final score: 27-23, Saints win.
Week 13: So far I have the Saints on a four-game win streak, and I don’t see that ending when Carolina pays a visit for their early-season rematch. The Saints lost that game, but they should be able to return the favor in their bid to win the NFC South. Payton should have the offense firing on full cylinders by this point and the Panthers don’t look to have any answers for matching them score-for-score offensively. This shouldn’t be a difficult game to win, but I don’t expect it to set any records. Final score: 21-10, Saints win.
Next: The Fourth Quarter