In less than three months, we're supposed to have football back, but more importantly the season opener for the New Orleans Saints. What that will look like right now is uncertain. However, the hope is that there are no setbacks around the country and in particular for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome that would prevent fans from seeing the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town in Week 1.
At this point of the NFL season, there's way too many questions than answers. We start a new multi-part series that will focus on some of the biggest questions related to the 2020 Saints. Today, we look at a big one: Can the Saints be the first team to win the NFC South a fourth-straight time?
Since being formed in 2002, the NFC South has only had one other three-peat division winner not named the Saints. That was the Carolina Panthers, who won the division each season between 2013-2015. In fact, the Saints and Panthers are the only NFC South teams to win back-to-back division crowns. New Orleans has been on a very impressive run over the past three seasons, going a combined 37-11 in the regular season (Carolina went 34-13-1 during their span).
Top to bottom, the Saints arguably have one the most complete rosters in the NFL. They didn't have a ton of turnover, and their free agent and draft additions feature a lot of talent that should latch on with ease. It also helped retaining a lot of their own. If you were to go through the 90-man roster right now, you could easily pick out at least 80 percent of the favorites to make the final squad. With most football things being on hiatus due to COVID-19, the familiarity counts for something.
With all that being said, the infatuation with the Buccaneers is real. However, they're very unproven. If you would have said this was Tom Brady from several seasons ago, then there may be more merit to the hype. Brady is great, and he'll probably go down as the best quarterback to ever play the game. The verdict is out on what he'll bring to the table. He could easily be the Brett Favre of the Vikings or the Brett Favre of the Jets. That also means the Buccaneers could end up being this year's version of the Cleveland Browns.
The Falcons have their flaws, while the Panthers look to be rebuilding. Atlanta has the talent in their building to be the superior competition to New Orleans. What happened to their team last season was maybe more fluke than anything, but if they can avoid the detrimental start, then you could circle the Week 11 and Week 13 games as potential 'make or break' games for the NFC South crown. Their coaching will be the difference.
Our staff at Saints News Network was pretty divided as to who would be the biggest threat to New Orleans, but it's still a strong belief that the Saints would be the favorites to win again until proven otherwise. The betting odds see it the same way, as Odds Shark notes.
- New Orleans, -155
- Atlanta, +300
- Tampa Bay, +500
- Carolina, +1100
The Saints will undoubtedly be tested this year with interesting challenges on the schedule and the way they fall, which is obviously no different than any other season. However, Sean Payton's and his entire coaching staff certainly have the right mentality right now to help bring another crown to New Orleans. They also have the right DNA from a talent and leadership perspective that should also make a run to see history made in the NFC South.