Saints Through The Crystal Ball: Game by Game Predictions

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Nov 27, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates with wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) after a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Rams 49-21. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates with wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) after a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Rams 49-21. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 27, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates with wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) after a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Rams 49-21. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates with wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) after a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Rams 49-21. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

We read it in the fire, Who Dat Nation.

Around bones we wrapped the ripped up paper of the New Orleans Saints schedule. In the hour of the wolf, we cast the lot. We read the signs. Through the void, we’ve brought back visions of a world to come. We’ve seen the future.

The Saints will win. And they will lose. And I warn you: do not read on if you do not want to spoil the sudden coming this new age. There is an excitement in not knowing, and a finality in prophecy.

But if the urge carries you, if you cannot but take that next step and peer through our crystal ball, then come with me. I’ll take you down the road, down this game by game prediction, until we come to the end and the Saints’ lot is set is stone.

We will start at the beginning. The first quarter. Week One. Monday Night.

Week 1: @ The Minnesota Vikings

The Saints open up the season on the road, in primetime. Monday Night Football — not a bad way to start the season. And it may be a homecoming for Adrian Peterson.

Dec 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) looks on following the game against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Colts defeated the Vikings 34-6. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) looks on following the game against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Colts defeated the Vikings 34-6. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vikings have a stout defense. The Saints have a stout offense. The outcome of that matchup will be very telling as to how Sean Payton plans to replace Brandin Cooks’ production. And will be a solid indicator of the continued strength of this offense.

If the Saints are going to win this game, it could be on defense. Bradford will be the starter, almost certainly. And I expect the Vikings will stick to their dink-and-dunk offense. But they’ve got a serious weakness along the inside of their OL, and the Saints are well-equipped to expose that.

Prediction: Saints 28 – Vikings 17

Week 2: The New England Patriots

Another week, another homecoming. Potentially two. This time, Brandin Cooks will come back to the Dome. But he won’t be wearing the Black and Gold.

I’m a bit worried Cooks takes over this game. And I’m a bit worried Gronk takes over this game. I’m more than a bit worried that Tom Brady takes over the game. Oh, and the Patriots have a good defense.

Hard to see this one ending up in the Saints’ favor. If we manage to trade for Malcolm Butler, that’ll help tremendously. And if Gronk is for whatever reason not available, that would do the same. But even in both those scenarios, it’s Bill Belichick. I love me some Sean Payton, but I have the fear of god same as every man.

Prediction: Patriots 34 – Saints 21

Week 3: @ The Carolina Panthers

People forget that the Panthers lost Sean McDermott, their longtime DC. That could be devastating for a team that has struggled on offense for years, and now has to somehow make up for the roster-shattering loss that is A.J. Klein. I kid. But McDermott’s absence could seriously prove damaging.

Pair that with the fact that Tedd Ginn is no longer around to take the top off of the defense and Greg Olsen is another year older (if he does age, that is), and you can see why I like this matchup. The Panthers had a young secondary in 2016, and by all accounts it should be improved. But its still weak. And Sean Payton and Drew Brees should eat.

Prediction: Saints 34 – Panthers 28

Week 4: @ The Miami Dolphins (London!)

The Saints play in London! Fortunately, it counts for them as an away game. Tough luck, Miami.

And hey, whatdoyaknow, another reunion! This time, it’s Kenny Stills. He’s struggled at first with Miami, but he’s come into his own as a deep threat. He could cause the Saints some headaches.

The Dolphins have some glaring needs in defense. None so great as linebacker, for sure. But in their secondary and along the EDGE they’re also weak. They gave up some big passing yards in 2016, and the Saints will look to continue that trend in 2017.

On the other side of the ball, though, things could get a big sketchy for the Saints. Jay Ajayi is a beast out of the backfield, and Ryan Tannehill is a wildly underrated quarterback. The trouble is the interior of their offensive line, where Mike Pouncy and Jermon Bushrod are huge questionmarks. I’d be surprised if Pouncy was healthy enough to suit up for the 2017 season, with his history of hip injuries.

I know, the Saints have already won two games. But what can I say? I like the matchup.

Prediction: Saints 21 – Dolphins 17

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