WHAT IF: NEW ORLEANS STARTS SLOW AGAIN?
The New Orleans Saints have been consistent in recent seasons. However, the Black and Gold are just not consistent in the way fans are hoping for.
Let’s take a look at the Saints final regular season record every year since 2012:
Four of the last five, and the past three seasons, the Saints have finished one game under .500. And the one common denominator in each of those seasons: slow starts.
The Saints have started each of the past three seasons 1-3. Ultimately, the slow starts killed the team. Drew Brees and the offense are consistently excellent year in and year out. But not all the blame for the slow starts can be put on the defense. As awful as that side of the ball has been, the offense hasn’t always performed consistently in the first quarter of the season.
For the team to compete this season, they have to get off to a faster start. Their early season schedule for 2017 is challenging. To say the least. They start off the season with four of their first six opponents against playoff teams from last season.
Another thing that doesn’t help is how crazy the Saints travel schedule will be in the early portion of the season. Fellow Who Dat Dish contributor Dayton Brown broke it down in a recent article of his:
"The Saints begin the season on Monday Night on the road against the Vikings… New Orleans’ next game is 6 days later against the defending-Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. What luck. Week 1 is on the road against a rising Vikings squad. Week 2 comes off just 5 days rest against the best team in the world… After New England, the Saints travel to Carolina to face their division rivals led by Cam Newton. Then, shortly after, the team travels to London for an international game against the Miami Dolphins. To top off that crazy stretch, New Orleans is “rewarded” with a very early Week 5 Bye."
So what if New Orleans starts slow? Will they be able to recover better than they have in prior seasons?
The team is as talented as ever, with the three-headed monster at running back of Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram, and Alvin Kamara. Furthermore, Drew Brees will again be under center, and there’s an infusion of young talent on defense. But they can’t afford to put themselves behind the eight ball for the fourth season in a row.
According to CBS Sports, New Orleans ranks in the middle of the pack at 15th when it comes to their strength of schedule. They finish off the season with four of their last five games against division foes, including two against Atlanta. In addition, The NFC South looks to be a very improved division this year. And although each of these games is winnable, they can ill afford to make it a win or go home situation for them before December rolls around.