On the road to redemption for the New Orleans Saints, it turns out there’s plenty of passengers along for the ride.
Coming off last season’s heartbreaking exit vs. the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round, the reloaded Saints are capturing the attention of experts across the nation.
The Saints, kicking off the season at home vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday Sept. 9 at 1 p.m. (EST), are the biggest gambling favorite of Week 1 (9.5 points) according to NOLA.com.
Even more intriguing is that New Orleans is tied with the Los Angeles Rams for the most Super Bowl LIII champion votes by NFL.com analysts. Two analysts predict the Saints to defeat the New England Patriots, with the Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars each receiving a vote as the AFC opponent.
There’s a ton of reasons for the national media’s optimism.
🚨 The regular season starts tomorrow! 🚨 Take a listen to Coach Payton’s conference call with the media
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) September 5, 2018
The offense has electrifying potential with quarterback Drew Brees (4,334 yards, 23 touchdowns), wide receiver Michael Thomas (1,245 yards, five touchdowns) and running backs Mark Ingram (1,124 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Alvin Kamara (728 yards, eight touchdowns).
CBS Sports predicts a huge season from Thomas, whom they believe will lead the NFL in receiving yards.
The Saints signed former Patriots running back Mike Gillislee to provide depth at running back until Mark Ingram’s return from a four-game suspension and also acquired quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from the New York Jets as an insurance policy.
“New Orleans doesn’t need Brees to be Superman anymore — which gives him a chance to add a second Super Bowl ring just after his 40th birthday in January,” ESPN’s Mike Triplett said.
The potent Saints defense returns defensive end Cameron Jordan (13 sacks), cornerback Marshon Lattimore (five interceptions) and safety Marcus Williams (four interceptions) plus welcomes intriguing rookie defensive end Marcus Davenport.
In their preview of the Saints, ESPN boldly predicts Williams won’t be defined by his playoff gaffe.
“Instead of being remembered as the victim of the ‘Minneapolis Miracle,’ Williams will become known for overcoming his infamous missed tackle on Stefon Diggs.”
The talent and motivation is certainly there for the Saints. Add it all up and you have the potential recipe for a second Super Bowl parade in the Bayou.