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Saints: Five brave predictions for 2017

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Jan 1, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) (left) greets New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) after the Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Saints 38-32. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) (left) greets New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) after the Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Saints 38-32. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Aug 11, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New Orleans Saints center Marcus Henry (61) at the line of scrimmage during a during a preseason NFL against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 11, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New Orleans Saints center Marcus Henry (61) at the line of scrimmage during a during a preseason NFL against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

The Saints offensive line becomes the best in the league.

There are questions surrounding starting center Max Unger. The Saints are reportedly interested in bringing in some competition for the backup spot. But with Unger projected to have fully recovered by Week 3 of the preseason, we can tentatively assume his health for 2017.

Given a healthy Unger, this Saints offensive line is the best its looked in years.

Possibly the best it’s looked in the Payton era, and the Saints have had some scary-good lines under S.P. Terron Armstead is one of the best in the business when he’s healthy. Andrus Peat — whatever the occasional fan says — is a very good guard. Max Unger is arguably the best center in the league. Larry Warford, the “mass and ass” 2016 award winner, has put together a very impressive early part of his career. And Zach Strief not only had the best season of his career in 2016, he had one of the best seasons of any RT on the year.

And the strength of this line isn’t just up front. It’s rare that a line plays an entire season without injury. It happened to last year’s Atlanta Falcons, and it’s a part of what made them so dangerous on offense. Teams need to be prepared for the inevitable injury. And the Saints are exactly that.

First-round pick Ryan Ramczyk might win the starting job from Zach Strief straight up. And Senio Kelemete has got to be one of the most valuable backups in the league: he can play tackle, guard or center, and can do it at either side of the line. He’s good enough at just about every position to start for any team in the league. And he’s the Saints second-best backup.

With the three-headed monster in the backfield, this Saints offensive line has a chance to produce some serious numbers in the ground game.

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