The Saints Are Coming!
With five nationally televised games on the schedule, New Orleans enters 2018 with high expectations and the media attention to match.
Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football. Price also authors the Friday Sports Column at BizNewOrleans.com.
After coming one play away from making the NFC Championship game last season, the New Orleans Saints enter the 2018 season loaded with talent The league and the national media have taken notice, and have the Saints playing five nationally televised prime-time games this season. Those games have the power to lift the Saints’ national profile, which in turn boosts interest and, more importantly, merchandise and advertising sales.
With most starters returning and few roster positions open, this month’s preseason and training camp will be used to determine the best talent to build depth.
Backing up Brees
There aren’t enough good things you can say about Drew Brees as quarterback, but the battle behind him will be interesting to watch. Taysom Hill, a second-year player who saw action on special teams last season, looks to be Brees’ back up. The Saints usually keep two QBs on the active roster, so rookie J.T. Barrett and fifth-year journeyman Tom Savage will likely battle to make the practice squad.
Although he’ll miss the first four games due to suspension, Mark Ingram, along with Alvin Kamara will again provide a one-two punch from the backfield. Daniel Lasco, Jonathan Williams and fullback Zach Line will also combine to power the Saints’ ground game.
Wide receiver Michael Thomas is well on his way to becoming a bonafide star. Look for Brandon Coleman, Ted Ginn Jr., Tommylee Lewis, and tight ends Josh Hill and Benjamin Watson to be prime targets as well.
The offensive line will be anchored by familiar names – Max Unger, Terron Armstead, Jermon Bushrod, Andrus Peat and Ryan Ramczyk. LSU Center Will Clapp was a steal as a seventh-round draft pick. Working under Unger, I think he’ll make the team, provide depth and hopefully keep the middle of the line as solid as it has been.
Depending on Davenport
The Saints have a defensive line that’s going to be fun to watch. Cameron Jordan, Sheldon Rankins, David Onyemata, Alex Okafor and Tyeler Davison welcome Marcus Davenport, the No. 14 overall pick, to the unit. The Saints traded their first- and fifth-round picks in the 2018 draft and a first-rounder in next year’s draft to the Green Bay Packers to move up from No. 27 to get the defensive end. Although he had to have thumb surgery after mini-camp, the team hopes he is a player who can start immediately and anchor the defense for years to come.
A.J. Klein, Demario Davis and Alex Anzalone will lead the linebacker corps, with support from Craig Robertson, Manti Te’o and Nathan Stupar.
The collection of talent in this defensive backfield may be the best the team has ever had. Look for Ken Crawley, Vonn Bell, P.J. Williams, Marshon Lattimore and Patrick Robinson to shut down the opposition’s passing game with deflections and interceptions.
The season schedule is a bit quirky. It starts and ends with two home games, with the remaining four home games sprinkled over the last 13 weeks. After a Sunday match with the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, the Saints have back-to-back Thursday-night games with a Thanksgiving night clash at home against Atlanta, then it’s on the road against Dallas. They also play four of their six games against division rivals in the last six weeks of the season.
The New Orleans Saints’
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Sun., Sept. 9|
|Cleveland Browns||Sun., Sept. 16|
|at Atlanta Falcons||Sun., Sept. 23|
|at New York Giants||Sun., Sept. 30|
|Washington Redskins||Mon., Oct. 8|
|at Baltimore Ravens||Sun., Oct. 21|
|at Minnesota Vikings||Sun., Oct. 28|
|Los Angeles Rams||Sun., Nov. 4|
|at Cincinnati Bengals||Sun., Nov. 11|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Sun., Nov. 18|
|Atlanta Falcons||Thurs., Nov. 22|
|at Dallas Cowboys||Thurs., Nov. 29|
|at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Sun., Dec. 9|
|at Carolina Panthers||Mon., Dec. 17|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Sun., Dec. 23|
|Carolina Panthers||Sun., Dec. 30|