NFL Predictions 2011: New Orleans Saints Preview and Prediction

Bryan FlynnAnalyst ISeptember 7, 2011

HOUSTON - AUGUST 20:  Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Sainst looks to the bench during a pre-season football game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on August 20, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

he last time we saw the New Orleans Saints play in a meaningful NFL game it was at Seattle on Wild Card weekend of the NFL Playoffs. New Orleans was the defending Super Bowl champions and got sent out of the playoffs against a 7-9 football team.

No excuse here for the Saints. The Seahawks ran and threw the ball at will against New Orleans.

In the first playoff game in defense of their title, New Orleans let an aging Matt Hasselbeck, who was fighting a variety of injuries, complete passes all over the field and Marshawn Lynch breaking off a 67 yard, Tommie Frazieresque type run against Florida, for the game clinching touchdown.

New Orleans was favored by 10 points against Seattle and penciled in to advance. Instead, the 2010-11 Saints will be remembered for their monumental playoff loss.

The Saints decided to spend their 2011 first round draft pick out on Cameron Jordan out of California with the 24th overall pick. Jordan was expected to become a pass rushing force, but more on Jordan later.

Sean Peyton, Saints head coach, must have spent the time off after the playoff loss reading about how the Saints needed a run game against the Seahawks. Peyton and general manager Mickey Loomis traded away the Saints second round pick in the 2011 draft and next year’s 2012 first round pick to the England Patriots for Mark Ingram out of Alabama with the 28th overall pick.

During the NFL lockout the Saints were the fashionable story about players getting together and working out. Many in the media believed this would lead to a major advantage for New Orleans once the lockout ended.

The lockout finally ended and a short training camp opened with everyone expecting the Saints to look very good in the preseason. Throwing out the final preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, it was a mixed bag for the Saints in the preseason.

New Orleans dominated two bad teams, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders but lost to playoff contender Houston Texans. In their preseason wins the Saints averaged 401 total yards and in their losses they averaged 336 yards.

That is a difference of 65 yards between wins and losses. Even more troubling is that the Saints only out rushed one team the entire preseason, in the first game against the 49ers.

One of the biggest problems of the 2010-11 season was the lack of a running game. This forced Drew Brees to have to throw on too many downs. In fact, the Saints attempted 117 more passes in 2010 than they did in 2009.

Read the rest of this article at JFP Sports.