New Orleans Saints 2008 Season Preview
by Badger of Predictem.com
2007 Record 7-9 (6-10 ATS)
Stadium: Louisiana Superdome
Head Coach: Sean Peyton (3rd Season 18-16)
Current 2008 Super Bowl Odds 20-to-1
Training Camp Site: Millsaps College, Jackson, Miss.
One season after the New Orleans Saints captured the hearts and minds
of many fans of the NFL with their inspiring post-Hurricane Katrina
10-6 season, they slipped back below the .500-mark with a 7-9 season
in 2007. Head coach Sean Peyton often outsmarted himself by trying to
be too tricky, running back Deuce McAllister tore up his knee early
in the season and the Saints pass defense couldnt stop anyone, so
theres a lot that Saints fans would like to forget about the 07
But with the NFC South Division a wide open race again with no clear-
cut favorite, the Saints appear poised to step back into the
spotlight with a revamped offense and a host of new faces on defense
in their effort to try and get back into the playoffs in 2008.
Whos In/Whos Out
After trying to trade for tight end Jeremy Shockey since the weeks
leading up to the 2008 NFL Draft, the Saints finally pried him away
from the Giants in late July just before training camp opened.
Shockey instantly becomes the best pass-catching tight end in the NFC
South, and the Saints offense becomes a heck of a lot more dangerous
especially in the red zone.
Shockey wasnt the only addition however, as the Saints went out in
free agency and addressed their lack of overall talent on the defensive side of the ball.
They brought in playmaker Jonathan Vilma (Jets) to drastically
improve their linebacking core. They also brought in defensive backs
Aaron Glenn (Jacksonville) and Randall Gay (Patriots), as well as
defensive end Bobby McCray (Jacksonville) to try and improve the
weakest unit on the team (29th in NFL allowing 348.1 yds./game).
Some of the bigger names the Saints lost in the offseason include: center Jeff Faine, LB Brian Simmons and kicker Olindo Mare. None of
these losses stands to be too problematic though, as they replaced
Faine with free agent pickup Matt Lehr (Tampa) and replaced Mare with
6th-round draft pick Taylor Mehlhaff (Wisconsin).
Besides Mehlhaff, the Saints also added DT Sedrick Ellis (1st USC), DT DeMario Pressley (5th N.C. State), CB Tracy Porter (2nd
Indiana), T Carl Nicks (5th Nebraska) and WR Adrian Arrington (7th
Michigan) in their 2008 draft class.
The one constant in the Saints offense the past few years has been quarterback Drew Brees. Brees has been everything the Saints could
have hoped for when they got him from San Diego, again surpassing the
4,000-yard mark in 2007 with another strong 28-to-18 touchdown-to-
Last year running back Reggie Bush was forced to handle the bulk of
the carries when McAllister when down in a heap clutching his knee,
and he didnt fare all too well with less than 1,000 yards combined
rushing and receiving with six touchdowns. Bush and the Saints will
benefit a ton if McAllister is healthy enough to handle the role of
ball carrier on early downs.
Brees has a nice complement of receivers to throw to, and it just got
a whole lot better with Shockey splitting the seams down the middle
of the field. Marques Colston is a legit deep threat (12.3 yd./ave.,
11 TD) that has veteran David Patten, the rookie Arrington, and
fellow starter Lance Moore as possession guys opposite him. And dont
forget about the amount of catches Bush gets on flares, trick plays
and dump downs (73 rec. in 07).
The Saints offensive line is a question mark, but like most NFL teams they do have a nice set of tackles to protect Brees. Jon Stinchcomb
and Jammal Brown are solid pass blockers, but a relatively new center
in Jonathan Goodwin (15 starts in six years) will have to mesh
quickly with guards Jahari Evans and Jamar Nesbit or he could get
replaced by Lehr.
One of the weakest units in the NFL gets a lot of knew faces, but like the offense, it too has to deal with a player coming back from a
knee injury. Vilma swarmed all over the ball before his knee injury
last year, if hes recovered and back to playmaking speed the Saints
defense will thrive.
First-rounder Ellis goes into the tackle rotation with Hollis Thomas
and Brian Young, while Will Smith (7 sacks), Charles Grant (2 sacks)
and McCray ( 10 sacks in 06, just 3 in 07) will be counted on to
provide the pass rush from the defensive end position.
The Saints secondary must improve if they hope to reach the postseason. They were simply horrible last season (30th in pass yards
allowed per game 245.2 ) and the only piece they brought back,
cornerback Mike McKenzie, is ALSO coming back from a knee injury.
Former Patriot Gay and McKenzie will join safeties Roman Harper and
Josh Bullocks as starters, while Glenn and Porter add depth on
The kicking job will be won in training camp by either the veteran Martin Gramatica or the rookie sixth-rounder Mehlhaff. Gramatica was
5-for-5 including a 55-yarder in his three-game stint at the end of
the year last season, so Mehlhaff may just collect his signing bonus
and go home.
Steven Weatherford will be entering his third year as the Saints
punter. Last year he ended with a 37.2 yard net average and displayed
excellent touch around the goal line (only 4 touchbacks).
Lance Moore had a nice 9.3 yards/per return average on his punt returns last season, and Pierre Thomas ended with a 24 yards/per
average on his 36 kickoff returns, so the Saints return teams will
likely be Moore and Thomas again in 08.
Sept. 7 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Sept. 14 at Washington Redskins
Sept. 21 At Denver Broncos
Sept. 28 SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
Oct. 6 MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Oct. 12 OAKLAND RAIDERS
Oct. 19 at Carolina Panthers
Oct. 26 vs. San Diego Chargers in London, England
Nov. 2 Bye
Nov. 9 at Atlanta Falcons
Nov. 16 at Kansas City Chiefs
Nov. 24 GREEN BAY PACKERS
Nov. 30 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dec. 7 ATLANTA FALCONS
Dec. 11 at Chicago Bears
Dec. 21 at Detroit Lions
Dec. 28 CAROLINA PANTHERS
Betting Odds and Projections
The 2008 New Orleans Saints is a dangerous team in the NFC this
season, but their current 20-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl in 2008 is a sure sign that oddsmakers think they are a semi-
The Saints always seem to be snake bit though, a fact their fans and
sports gamblers who bet on the Saints are well aware of by now. The
Saints were 6-10 ATS in 2007, but bettors were able to rely on their
piss-poor defense to allow a lot of points, so betting the over was a
solid 10-6. The betting trend to watch in the Saints on the road, as
they were 4-4 ATS in 07 and are 14-12 ATS since 2005.
Being good on the road will be key for the Saints this year because they will travel to a home game in London in week eight. This
scheduling quick is controversial, since it comes sandwiched between
three other away games, making the Saints go 43 days without a home
game. Either way, it will be huge in determining their potential in