By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
Football is officially back and Atlanta’s newly built Mercedes Benz Dome will play host to Super Bowl LIII and the New Orleans Saints will walk out with a win come Super Bowl Sunday in February.
This will be the franchise’s second Lombardi trophy; their first Super Bowl win was in 2010 when the Saints defeated Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 31-17. They were led by Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees and a lockdown secondary that could have rivaled the Legion of Boom in Seattle.
What’s different? The Saints may have a better team now than they did in 2010 and this may be the best team that Sean Peyton has had in his tenure as head coach. The Saints were bounced out of the playoffs in the divisional round against the Vikings after a last second 61-yard touchdown sealed the Saints’ fate.
It is a new season for the Saints and the team brings back plenty of experienced players. On the offensive side, Drew Brees will enter his 13th season in New Orleans where he threw for only 23 TDs and eight interceptions last year. The last time Brees failed to throw over 30 touchdown passes was all the way back in 2007.
Why a decline from Brees in the touchdown category? Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are the answer, some consider them to be the best tag-team duo in the NFL. Kamara coming off a rookie campaign where he ran for 728 yards and eight TDs while collecting Pro Bowl and Rookie of the Year honors.
Kamara looks to build off his outstanding rookie season while WR Michael Thomas is one of the most under-the-radar receivers in the league. He should be considered an “elite” receiver after he hauled in 196 catches in his first two NFL seasons, which is an NFL record. Thomas will continue to blossom while the speedy Ted Ginn Jr. can still be considered a deep ball threat for this potent offense.
Defensively, the Saints are looking better than ever, the only concern being the linebacker position. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore finished his rookie campaign with five interceptions while accumulating a well-deserved Pro Bowl pick. Experts say he could turn into into one of the best corners in the league.
Safety Marcus Williams, who was remembered for the missed tackle he had on Vikings WR Stefon Diggs in the NFC Divisional game, also had a stellar rookie season where he started 15 games and had four interceptions.
In the off-season, Williams has received a lot of praise; he was even compared to Ed Reed, the former safety for the Ravens.
In the trenches on the defensive line, Cameron Jordan participated in his third Pro Bowl last season after he had a career high in sacks with 13.
The Saints have a chance to get back to the Super Bowl, especially with the explosive combination of Brees, Kamara, and Thomas, which should make Sundays fun to watch. It is all going to come down to the defense; however, there is nobody better in the business than Sean Payton.