If I were to go up to anyone outside the state of Louisiana, hell, even within the state, and say that this is the year the New Orleans Saints would win their second Super Bowl, I would be laughed out into the Gulf.
While many would perceive it as the joke of some delusional fan, I am fully confident in their ability to win, assuming the referees do not try and play ball.
The Saints have had a rough few years following the Drew Brees era and then an even worse year in the post-Sean Payton era. The team went 9–8 in the 2021 season, barely missing the playoffs, then went 7–10 in 2022 with a nearly unwatchable, Andy Dalton-led offense that brought down a legitimately good defense.
It’s the offense that needed the most work going into the season, most specifically that Drew Brees-shaped hole at quarterback. That hole might just be filled by Derek Carr who, like Brees, comes to the Saints as a free agent after being cast away by his previous team.
Carr is an amazing upgrade at the quarterback position after two seasons of Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton. At times it was Carr that was the only bright spot for a very dysfunctional Las Vegas Raiders franchise.
Adding to the potential increase in offensive production is the return of Micheal Thomas, who many hope will stay healthy and play the full season. If Thomas can play the full season, even with slightly reduced production, it will be a big boost compared to the previous season.
In addition to Thomas, the Saints also have Chris Olave who is coming off a thousand-yard rookie season and will look to improve more. They also drafted rookie receiver A.T. Perry out of Wake Forest who could prove to be an excellent addition to an already good receiving group.
The Saints didn’t just spend big on quarterback either, going out and signing running back Jamaal Williams who was last year’s rushing touchdowns leader. This will come in handy as franchise back Alvin Kamara will be suspended for the first three games of the season.
Once Kamara returns, the Saints will boast one of the best backfields in the league, especially with the threat that Kamara can pose downfield.
With the improvements on offense, the defense also looks to, if not improve, then at the very least maintain the top-10 level it had last year.
The biggest flaw in the Saints’ defense was their run defense, which ranked in the bottom 10 in the league. The Saints lost defensive tackles David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle. They quickly replaced them with veteran Khalen Saunders and first round rookie Bryan Bresee.
This all combines to make a very promising Saints team, but how do they match up against their opponents?
Going into the 2023 season, the Saints over/under win total is 9.5 per Fox Sports with the easiest strength of schedule in the NFL. While I agree the Saints can win the Super Bowl, they will not be going undefeated.
Looking at the schedule, I see the Saints losing games to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons. They will also take losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers, and New England Patriots.
With that 11–6 record, the Saints will easily win the lackluster NFC South division and secure a home Wild Card spot. Once in the playoffs, it’s just a matter of making sure the offense is running at full steam while the defense clamps down on opponents.
In the Wild Card, the Saints will meet the Minnesota Vikings, where winning will exorcize their playoff demons. They’ll then travel to Philadelphia to take on the second-seeded Eagles looking to get back to the Super Bowl.
The Saints will win a close one, most likely coming down to an overtime field goal to end it. That is when they will meet the boss of the NFC this season: the San Francisco 49ers. This will be the hardest game the Saints play all season, a defensive slugfest of the ages.
The Saints winning that game would have them fully prepared for their final opponent in Las Vegas. Under the bright lights of Allegiant Stadium for Super Bowl LVIII, the Saints will find themselves facing Louisiana’s adopted son Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals.
In the battle for Louisiana, in Las Vegas, fireworks will come out as both teams score at least 40 points before Carr leads one of his signature game-winning drives.
With that, Carr will secure his legacy and Mardi Gras would be especially special as the Lombardi Trophy is paraded down St. Charles Avenue.