Reason No. 3: Are we sure the Saints are that good?
Coming into the season, my models pegged the Saints as the best team in the NFL. Although it has already been five weeks, we may enough evidence to suggest they aren’t even a top-ten team.
It all starts with Drew Brees. Rather than continue to perform at his peak levels, his Pro Football Focus grade has regressed to an average 72.8, and he currently has the lowest average depth of target among starting quarterbacks.
As a result, New Orleans is relying on explosive rushes to field a high-end offense, and if we know anything about rushing attacks, it is that you can’t consistently rely on it to be the strength of your team.
For that reason, I am concerned about their ability to score against better defenses (playing the Raiders, Packers, Lions, and Chargers help); their offense is completely reliant on Alvin Kamara.
That generally would be fine, but the defense has underperformed even more than the offense! They currently rank in the bottom-five in Pro Football Focus coverage grade, and if they cannot cover receivers long enough, then they won’t have time to generate pressure on the opposing quarterback.
When you are in an extremely difficult division, that won’t fly unless you have the explosive offense necessary to get into shootouts.
Could this just be a fluky poor start for the Saints? Absolutely.
However, that question likely wouldn’t be answered until Weeks 9 and 10, when they play the Bucs and 49ers. Unfortunately, that is after the trade deadline, and with just a +6 point differential, they haven’t done enough to justify going “all-in”.
*NOTE: Grades as of Friday October 23rd