The Professor’s 2021 NFL Preview: NFC South – New Orleans Saints

TheProfessor_NFL preview-Saints

New Orleans Saints

Team Projection

TeamPoints ForPoints AgainstGames FavoredPythagorean Expected Wins

As strange as it was to see Tom Brady depart New England, it will be at least as strange to see the New Orleans Saints without Drew Brees. The circumstances surrounding Hurricane Katrina, and the way the quarterback and the team helped to lift the city’s morale in the aftermath, seemed to create a bond between the signal-caller and the city unlike any other I’ve witnessed.

That said, the show must go on, and head coach Sean Payton will turn to either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill at quarterback as the Saints move forward with a roster that remains talented, but lacks the incredible depth they’ve had at their disposal the last few seasons.

The clear strength of the team is now the offensive line, which has arguably been the case for the past four seasons, but their continued investment in this position group during the roster purge gives a bit of insight into Payton’s offensive philosophy. Left tackle Terron Armstead, who was a small-school gamble back when he was drafted, is the only player in the starting group who wasn’t drafted in the first round, and Armstead is consistently in the Pro Bowl mix. Right Tackle Ryan Ramczyk, the best in the group over the past two years for my money is on the franchise tag, so while they’re two years away from center Erik McCoy hitting the fifth year of his deal (which is a significant jump in compensation), there’s a very good chance 2021 is the last season this is the Saints’s starting five, and they’ll look to maximize the results.

It should be a fun year to watch them, as running back Alvin Kamara is coming off a dominant 2020 that saw him completely healthy. He’s set up for another banner year, and the fact that they retained running mate Latavius Murray signals that Payton intends to lean heavily on the run game as he transitions to a new quarterback in either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill. It’s not a complete change in philosophy, as the run game has been the backbone of this offense over the past few years, but we could see them shift even further in that direction depending on what type of performance they get at the quarterback.

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Steven Clinton, better known as "The Professor", is a former D-1 Quality Control Assistant (Northwestern, Toledo) who holds a B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. He maintains an end-to-end NFL game projection model and is a film junkie who breaks down the tape of every NFL game.