At the season’s halfway mark, the the Saints are 4-4. Not great. Not bad for a team that went 7-9 three years in a row. But still, not quite good enough.
Week 10: @ The Buffalo Bills
Some people LOVE Tyrod Tayler. And I can see why. The dude is exciting. He can run and has easily the prettiest deep-ball in the game.
But man, am I not scared of him.
The Ryans are gone from Buffalo, but that doesn’t make me think any less of them as an organization. Maybe it’s the series of bad players we’ve imported from their ranks. Maybe it’s the horrible coach they decided to pick up out of our dumpster. I don’t know what it is.
They’ve got pieces on defense. And they have Shady McCoy on offense (although he’s got to be near the end of the line, right?) But I just don’t believe in this roster.
They’ve got a stout OL, but a duck under center. And they’ve got Sean McDermott at the helm of the defense, but just lost Stephon Gilmore. McDermott is a zone-based DC, and the Saints EAT against a zone.
Prediction: Saints 24 – Bills 14
Week 11: The Washington Redskins
That’s right folks. The return of Junior Galette.
The last time the Saints played the Redskins, it cost our DC his job. I think things will go a bit differently this time around. For starters, we have some linebackers (let’s pray they’re healthy) that can finally cover the flats. We (should) have some cornerbacks that can hold their own along the outside. Dennis Allen is miles better than Rob Ryan, and Drew Brees is still golden.
I’m not sure that Galette will be playing in this game. After two consecutive Achilles tears and then his law-troubles this offseason, there’s every reason to believe he won’t make the final roster. He’s clearly got locker room baggage, and if he can’t make up for that on the field he’s not going to be in the league. But if he is in this game, man am I dying to see Armstead stonewall him. And even better would be Strief, who Galette attacked with some special vitriol in his post-Saints rants. Please, shut that man up.
Anyway, I think the Saints defense is enough improved to hold their own against Kirk Cousins and the Saints offense goes to work.
Prediction: Saints 27 – Redskins 21
Week 12: @ The Los Angeles Rams
Same team, different coaches. Everyone remembers the last time these teams played. The Saints exploded for 46 points and held the Rams to 21. It was a great day for everyone except Brandin Cooks, who’s lack of involvement led to some disgruntled comments and eventually bubbled up into a discontent with his usage that brought him to ask for a trade.
Sean Payton was clearly fired up for that game, and came ready with a plan to tear Gregg Williams’s defense apart. I fully expect Sean McVay and Wade Phillips will put out a better product than Williams and Jeff Fisher. So I don’t see a blowout here, necessarily.
But I don’t think the Rams have enough talent to pull out the win here. Assuming the Saints can generate some semblance of pressure against a mediocre Rams OL, I don’t think Jared Goff will perform well. I’m not very high on Goff.
The Saints do an excellent job of neutralizing DL threats, and while Aaron Donald presents a unique matchup problem I think the Saints will handle him well.
Prediction: Saints 28 – Rams 14
Week 13: The Carolina Panthers
The second matchup of the season with the Panthers comes at home. No doubt they’ll be a better defense at this point in the season, with more time under Steve Wilks to form to his vision. But I don’t think that changes much.
Cam Newton has regressed as a passed in recent years, and a streak of injuries and concussions has limited his threat as a runner. They may add a dangerous RB early in the draft, but neither McCaffrey or Fournette is enough of a gamebreaker to turn this adequate Panthers offense into a danger. They lost their vertical threat, and Kelvin Benjamin is about as hot/cold a player as you can imagine. He has the tools, but I don’t see him putting all together.
Drew Brees continues to carve teams up (you’ll notice, 17 points is the lowest I’ve predicted for the Saints thus far in 2017) and the defense plays the kryptonite role to Newton.
Prediction: Saints 27 – Panthers 13