The New Orleans Saints are motivated. They have their normal head coach back in the saddle after a one-year suspension and they have emerged from the wreckage of BountyGate. Can they again be a power player on the NFL betting odds for 2013-14?
Best Offseason Move:
The Saints picked up cornerback Keenan Lewis from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Everyone in and around the NFL knows how dreadful the Saints were in defending the pass last season. It was jarring at times to see how far this defense had regressed. Sure, there were some suspensions connected to the BountyGate scandal of 2011 and January of 2012, but even then, this was still a defense that helped the Saints win a Super Bowl not too long ago. Whenever the bottom falls out of a unit that helped produce a world championship in the not-too-distant past, there’s a shock value in play.
At any rate, New Orleans needs as many good defensive backs as it can get, and Lewis should provide some needed help on one side of the field. How well the secondary will perform as a collective whole is something that remains to be seen. Nevertheless, picking up a credible cover corner definitely addresses a need and will give the Saints more of a chance at containing the Atlanta Falcons’ passing game, with Matt Ryan slinging the pigskin across the field.
Worst Offseason Move:
The Saints know that their passing game had established a certain level of chemistry and continuity, so when a good thing gets broken up, it can be hard to stomach. The Saints lost Devery Henderson to the Washington Redskins. Henderson was able to pair up with Marques Colston to form a potent 1-2 combination on both sides of the field. He was able to stretch opposing defenses and thereby open up the middle third of the field for tight ends and scat backs, giving quarterback Drew Brees additional options whenever plays broke down. Henderson’s absence will be felt in New Orleans. It will be up to other receivers to pick up the slack and compensate for this departure.
How They’ll Finish In The Division:
The Saints took a hit in the month of June when linebacker Victor Butler got injured for the season. That is a big blow to the team’s defense. However, tight end Jimmy Graham is healthy again, which should make Brees a much more effective quarterback than he was last season. The reality of putting BountyGate behind the organization – yet drawing emotional fuel from it now that there are no more suspensions to deal with – should give New Orleans a lot of added focus and clarity in the coming season. This team should play with great energy and commitment. Having Super Bowl-winning head coach Sean Payton back on the sidelines will immediately boost the Saints’ prospects. This definitely should be a playoff team in what is still a comparatively weak division. Will New Orleans beat out Atlanta for first place in the NFC South? It’s an even-money proposition on the football betting odds but give the nod to the Saints – they’re going to be just a little more hungry than the Falcons.
Super Bowl Odds: +900