After winning the Super Bowl in February can the Saints repeat this season? Al Dannity expects New Orleans to have another shot at greatness in 2010.
Off-season changes The biggest change the Saints have to deal with is switching from hunter to prey. No team enters the 2010 season with a bigger target on its back than the reigning Super Bowl champions. New Orleans had quite the lengthy party celebrating its success and now its players must re-focus on the season ahead.
Second round rookie Charles Brown could pressure Jermon Bushrod for the starting left tackle slot but the most fascinating addition to the New Orleans’ roster is cornerback Patrick Robinson. The Florida State standout is substantially faster than Malcolm Jenkins, who might move to safety. Whatever happens to Jenkins, Robinson will only increase the ability of the Saints’ secondary to play opportunistic Football.
Mark your calendar The re-match of the NFC title game with Minnesota will make for an explosive start to the regular season. Defending Super Bowl champions have an excellent record in season-openers so keep that in mind when making NFL betting decisions.
The visit of Pittsburgh in week 8 should provide a fascinating clash of styles as well as delivering a big test for Big Ben Roethlisberger, who is missing the early part of Pittsburgh’s schedule through suspension. New Orleans will be given two tough road tests in weeks 12 and 13 at Dallas and Cincinnati. The back end of the Saints schedule contains two more tough road games, with trips to Baltimore and Atlanta.
The verdict I like the Saints to ride the wave of last season’s Super Bowl success all the way to the bye week. Sean Payton is too good a coach not to have this team ready and focussed on repeating as champions. New Orleans could be 9-0 or 8-1 by the bye but it will prove a lot tougher down the stretch. The Saints should still take the NFC South title but there should be a few bumps along the way. The Cowboys and Ravens will probably be in particularly tough playoff races and difficult to beat on the road. That coupled with the rest of the its schedule down the stretch should see the Saints finish up 12-4 or 13-3.
That should be enough to win the division and a bye through the first week of the playoffs. Whether that’s enough to secure home field advantage through the playoffs is another story. I like New Orleans to return to the post-season and make another serious run at the Super Bowl.