Progress is the keyword for the New Orleans Saints in 2020, and there’s even talk of the team being a genuine Super Bowl contender, given they’re expected to be the dominant outfit of the NFC South again. However, despite confidence of another strong regular season that will take them to the playoffs, the Saints will be hoping for a little more fortune when it comes to postseason.
Regular Season Success & Playoff Pains
For the last three seasons in a row, the New Orleans Saints have topped the NFC South and reached the postseason playoffs. After a period of rebuilding that brought three consecutive 7-9 regular seasons, with the team nowhere close to postseason participation, the last three seasons have been much stronger for the Saints, making the NFL Playoffs every time.
The 11-5 regular season of 2017 was enough to earn a Wild Card playoff berth, and while that brought victory against the Carolina Panthers, the Divisional playoff also produced the Minneapolis Miracle agony against the Minnesota Vikings. After bouncing back from a 17-0 first-half deficit, the Saints found themselves 24-23 ahead with just 25 seconds left on the clock. Case Keenum threw to Stefon Diggs, while New Orleans safety Marcus Williams missed the tackle and the Vikings had the win.
2018 brought an excellent 13-3 regular season, as the Saints topped the NFC rankings. After the Philadelphia Eagles were dispatched in the Divisional playoffs, there were high hopes heading into the NFC Championship Game against the Los Angeles Rams. Nevertheless, fate once again conspired against the Saints with an infamous no-call for pass interference, which denied them from scoring a go-ahead touchdown. The Rams forced overtime and went on to win, much to the bitterness of the Saints and their fans, robbed of a Super Bowl appearance.
Last year the Saints were 13-3 during the regular season, although that was only enough for third in the NFC Conference, with San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers ahead by the head-to-head sweep and conference record. In the Wild Card playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings, a chance for some revenge went unfulfilled, as the Saints were beaten 26-20 in overtime. Once again after a season that had promised so much, postseason proved to be the stumbling block.
2020 Super Bowl Dreams & Roster Depth
After three powerful but ultimately frustrating seasons, this may be the last chance for the Saints to realize their ambitions with the current crop of players. New Orleans can certainly boast one of the best rosters in the league right now, which is why they’re amongst the leading NFL spreads to win the Super Bowl LV this year, priced at +1100 odds for the big prize.
Since winning Super Bowl XLIV and the 2009 championship, Sean Payton and the Saints have regularly been amongst the favorites to lift the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy again, yet here we are just over a decade later, without New Orleans having been able to repeat that unique and historic feat. After signing a $50 million two-year contract extension in March this year, the clock is also ticking for 41-year-old veteran quarterback, Drew Brees, who will be desperate for another Super Bowl triumph before he retires.
Thankfully for Brees, he has one of the NFL’s best offensive units to help towards that aim, especially with two of the best tackles around, Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramcyzk. 2019 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Michael Thomas will also be looking to maintain his excellent form, while wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith is expected to be hugely important this year. After an impressive debut season last year, running back Latavius Murray will also be keen to register even better numbers.
Cam Jordan, Marshon Lattimore, and Demario Davis are beginning to get some of the wider recognition they deserve, with the trio achieving 51 sacks between them last season. They’re a key ingredient of a defense that’s as solid as they come, and they can easily continue to improve. Marcus Davenport and Sheldon Rankins return from injuries in the defensive line, while amongst the linebackers, Kiko Alonzo, Alex Anzalone, Kaden Elliss, and Demario Davis are joined by rookie Zack Baun, who could make his mark in the team.
Winning Start & Season Prediction
There’s nothing quite like the sense of anticipation that comes with a new season, which is made even better if the team can make a winning start. That’s precisely what the Saints did in their opening game against Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where the iconic Tom Brady is now strutting his stuff. New Orleans earned themselves an impressive 34-23 victory, which was the perfect way to get their campaign going.
Nevertheless, when reality bites it often bites hard. On the road as the Las Vegas Raiders hosted their first home game at the magnificent new Allegiant Stadium, the Saints fell short of expectations, slipping to a 34-24 reverse having expected a much better outcome. Lessons will obviously be learned and if the team is to fulfil its expectations, they can’t afford many more defeats like that.
Looking ahead, this is a team which is more than capable of winning the NFC South for a fourth season running, along with the postseason playoffs. There may be some bumps along the way, yet it’s hard to shake the sensation this team can achieve great things this year, if they can build some consistency and momentum over the coming weeks.