New Orleans Saints 2020 Regular Season Preview and Win-Loss Prediction

(Photo Credit: WFLA-TV8 Tampa, FL — Original: Butch Dill)

37 wins and 11 losses in the past 3 NFL Seasons. With an outstanding overall win-loss record such as that one, you’d have to assume to yourself that the team being spoken about is one that is either a current Super Bowl champion, or has won a Pro Football World title within the past few years.

For the New Orleans Saints however, the only thing they have to show for that phenomenal accomplishment within that amount of time besides 3 straight NFC South Division Championships, is a triple-layered amount of heart-break after 3 straight eliminations in a row; at the end of each of their past 3 Playoff games.

So now as the Black and Gold prepare to head into the uncertainty of a 2020 NFL Season already impacted by the current COVID-19 / coronavirus health crisis, the question that the franchise and its incredibly-passionate and devoted ‘Who Dat Nation’ fan-base now find themselves asking is:

Can this be the year that they FINALLY get over the proverbial hump and deliver another Super Bowl title to the New Orleans community before living legend and 20th year veteran starting QB (and soon-to-be 42 year old) Drew Brees retires?

Despite the unthinkable emotional anguish associated with their most recent losses that included infamous headlines such as the “Minneapolis Miracle” and the still-controversial “NOLA No-Call” — the Saints still have an elite-level Top 5-caliber team with all the pieces in place to make another run at a Super Bowl title — with what might just be THE best top-to-bottom team roster in the entire League.

Now it’s a matter of simply going out and achieving that final goal once and for all somehow, but before their perceived “window of opportunity” abruptly shuts all the way closed.

With that in mind, here is Big Easy Magazine’s annual Regular Season Preview and Win-Loss Prediction for the New Orleans Saints 2020 Season.

And we start on the side of the ball that most Saints fans like the most….


Photo Credit: Michael C. Hebert / New Orleans Saints on

As they seemingly are every year, the Saints offense once again should be ranked among the League’s very best and potentially most explosive in 2020, and that’s still with a passing game led by a QB who despite his advanced age, shows no signs of slowing down and who along with head coach Sean Payton (who has led the team for a decade-and-a-half since arriving in 2006), now has helped the Black and Gold appear within the Top 5 of the League in scoring offense a remarkable 9 times in 14 NFL seasons.

That QB of course is none other than 41-year old Drew Brees, who now will enter into his 15th (and possibly final) season as the franchise’s starter and is back at least for what will be his 20th NFL season, although based on his recent off-season activities which included trying to improve the distance of his deep ball / down-field passing capabilities, shows absolutely no signs whatsoever of slowing down on his way to the future spot that’s been reserved and waiting for him at the NFL Hall of Fame.

Despite having been forced to miss five games in the early part of the 2019 Season due to a torn thumb injury on his throwing hand that he hurt on the road against the Rams out at Los Angeles in Week #2, Brees still managed to put together one of the best regular seasons of his now 2-decades-long career last year, as he recorded his best-ever individual career-mark in QB rating (116.3) and remained in the conversation as one of the game’s top passers.

This most recent off-season appears to have rejuvenated Brees. especially since the organization has been extremely aggressive by having gone out and surrounded him with what just might be the single greatest collection of pure offensive talent he has ever played with. New Orleans added sneaky-good veteran (and former Steelers, Broncos, and recent 49ers) WR Emmanuel Sanders and drafted top-rated TE Adam Trautman, to put into the “gumbo” alongside All-Pro WR Michael Thomas; who shattered the NFL record for the most catches ever in a single NFL season with (149) on 185 total targets (a jaw-dropping 80.5 % catch rate).

But they should also benefit greatly from the return to full health of starting TE Jared Cook (who averaged 19.2 yards per catch and caught 7 TD receptions in the 2nd half of the season), as well as one of the NFL’s top pass-catching RB’s in Alvin Kamara — who revealed a few weeks ago that he had played most of last season on a torn MCL after many critics believed that he had suffered what was thought to be a “down year”.

With Kamara back at full strength and backed up by reliable and underrated (and often overlooked) veteran #2 RB Latavius Murray along with recent free-agent veteran signee Ty Montgomery (who has been one of the stand-out performers recently at the team’s padded practices in Training Camp), the Saints running game should complement the passing game much more effectively this coming season.

That’s likely to happen thanks to an offensive line that arguably is one of the best and most versatile in all of Pro Football. The Black and Gold return four of the five starters from last year’s team, including its two Pro Bowl starting and outstanding “bookend” offensive tackles, in veterans Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk.

Last year’s 2nd Round pick Eric McCoy remains at center and has already become one of the best young players at his position in the sport, and 1st Round draft pick and impressive rookie Cesar Ruiz will ultimately move over to the starting spot at right guard vacated by former veteran Larry Warford, whom the team released in May.

If there is any one “weak link” along the O-Line, it might be left guard Andrus Peat, who has endured consistent issues with nagging injuries (he just broke his hand last week at practice in Training Camp but is expected back for the season opener) since the team selected him with their top pick in 2015. But yet even he is still a Pro Bowl-caliber player (which he got chosen to play in after last season) when he is healthy, which is why the organization rewarded him with a new contract this past off-season.

The bottom line is that New Orleans has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the offensive side of the football heading into the upcoming season (8 of their 11 starters as they’re currently being projected have appeared / played in the Pro Bowl since 2016), but as it usually ends up being the case with them every year: their ultimate team success (or heart-breaking failure) as a whole collective effort, will hinge largely upon their defense.


Photo Credit: New Orleans Saints on (Original Credit via Brian Blanco)

Some might laugh out loud at the very thought or notion that the Saints could potentially field a Top 5 NFL defensive unit this upcoming season; but since taking over the responsibility on that side of the ball midway through the 2015 campaign after the firing of former coordinator Rob Ryan, current defensive coordinator Dennis Allen‘s scheme has slowly but surely become a vital part of the team’s success — and this could be the year it puts the franchise over the proverbial Playoff “hump” that has blocked their path to the Super Bowl for the previous three post-seasons.

On “paper”, the Saints defensive roster this season might just be as good as some of the franchise’s legendary “Dome Patrol” units of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Seriously — they really and truly are THAT good. Each position group (D-Line, LB corps, secondary / DB’s) features at least one player who either earned a spot in the Pro Bowl or was selected to be an All-Pro last season; and with the exception of a few departed and former (but notable) starters (cornerback Eli Apple & safety Vonn Bell, both of whom ended up leaving and signing with other teams), the majority of the same starting unit from 2019 is back once again this season.

Perennial Pro Bowl selection and now 10th year veteran defensive end Cam Jordan, returns once again after posting  a career-best 15.5 sacks in 2019, and he will be joined on a defensive line that is counting heavily upon the contributions this year of promising 3rd year veteran (and 2018 top draft pick) Marcus Davenport, who many observers are expecting to have a ‘break out’ season this year. But if the Black and Gold’s pass rush is indeed the key to any possible rise to the upper echelon of the League for the entire unit as a whole, then clearly it will will be influenced by the overall performance of the interior of the line “down in the trenches”.

Blossoming and talented 4th year veteran defensive tackle David Onyemata is the focal point of that effort, which is the reason why he was rewarded with a new 3-year, $27 million contract this off-season. But if the team is able to get further help from recently-recovered 5th year veteran DT (and former 2016 top Draft pick) Sheldon Rankins (who has looked good in Camp as he continues to battle back from a torn Achilles), it could be a reason for additional optimism in that regard.

An even better pass rush would also help boost a secondary that despite losing Apple and Bell, remains as one of the most improved facets of the defensive unit in recent months, Former 2009 top draft pick and now 12th year veteran free safety Malcolm Jenkins was signed in Free Agency after playing with the Philadelphia Eagles since 2014, where he became an All-Pro at that position and helped lead them to a Super Bowl title in 2017.

Now Jenkins is back manning his old spot that he previously held while contributing to the Saints’ one and only Super Bowl title as a rookie; and will serve as a mentor to the team’s other two young talented safeties in Marcus Williams and Ceedy Duce (a.k.a., Chauncey Gardner-Johnson).

Yet much of the focus of the secondary will be at the cornerback position, where New Orleans actually has what some observers feel could be the best 1-2 starting cornerback tandem in the entire NFL on the outside boundary, in starting CB’s Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins. Depth at the position is the biggest concern, since back-ups Patrick Robinson and P.J. Williams haven’t always been completely reliable to fill-in at either the outside boundary or at the “slot” CB positions, when they’ve been called upon.

That said, there isn’t any doubt whatsoever that the defense’s eventual success or lack of it, will come down to the performance of what most League observers consider THE biggest weakness of the whole team: the linebacker position. All-Pro weak-side / “Will” linebacker Demario Davis is arguably one of the Top 5 linebackers in all of the NFL at the moment, but behind him is where the uncertainty lingers. 3rd year veteran Alex Anzalone is the one player who very likely has the most influence upon how well the defense will be regarded when the 2020 Season reaches its conclusion in a few months from now.

After being constantly hurt for the past several seasons dating back to his final year in college, Anzalone has looked phenomenal in Training Camp and his health will be vitally important in how well the unit ultimately fares over the course of the next few months. However, the biggest “wild card” for the LB corps (and the entire unit for that matter) could be how much 3rd Round draft pick and promising rookie Zack Baun gets to contribute, given that he’s expected to see a considerable amount of playing time as a starter as the season eventually unfolds.


Photo Credit: New Orleans Saints on

As is the case with most of the other aspects of this year’s 2020 Saints team, the Black and Gold also possess plenty of talent on their Special Teams unit(s), and it’s yet just one more reason for Who Dat fans to be excited about potentially could be an unforgettable year if everything goes according to plan, this time around.

5th year veteran kicker Wil Lutz was selected to his first-ever career Pro Bowl last season, while 12th year veteran punter Thomas Morstead has averaged at least 46 yards (or better) on every per punt in eight of his last nine seasons according to the wonderful folks over at Pro Football Focus.

The Saints additionally brought back long-snapper Zach Wood, whom they signed to a 4-year contract extension this past off-season, but clearly and unequivocally their biggest performer on the unit is designated punt and kickoff return man Deonte Harris, who made the team as an undrafted rookie last season — and whose elite-caliber speed and return skills have made him the franchise’s most exciting player at that position in a long time — dating back to the unforgettable days of the legendary “Beerman” (former NOLA native and Budweiser delivery driver) Michael Lewis.


Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

“Super Bowl or Bust”. That’s ‘unofficially’ become the Saints’ main theme for the upcoming season, and it makes complete sense given the manner in which they’ve been eliminated from the Playoffs in heart-breaking fashion over the past 3 straight years in a row.

New Orleans has basically dominated the NFC South Division during that entire time, as they’ve won three straight division titles in that same span. But this season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers having added former 6-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady as their new starting QB, many observers believe that the upcoming 2020 Regular Season for the Black and Gold could be their stiffest challenge yet to that recent dominance.

Nevertheless, the Saints obviously are aware that their ultimate success will be judged mostly upon how many Super Bowls / World Championships that they’ve won, and not just their superiority to the three other teams within the division itself.

It’s the whole exact reason why the organization has gone “all in” by building one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the NFL around their future (and likely unanimous 1st-ballot) NFL Hall-of-Fame QB, and barring another ‘freak’ injury to his throwing hand or some other similar predicament, Drew Brees and his teammates are poised to make another run at a Super Bowl title.

Yet with the uncertainty still looming over the season even being completely played for all 16 games because of COVID-19 / coronavirus, the Saints could be (and are likely destined to be) forced to deal with several unforseen issues throughout the next few months such as health concerns for their players and entire organization, as well as the possible eventuality of societal impacts such as the 2020 Presidential Election and race relations becoming distractions for the team — in spite of their best efforts to avoid or become inadvertently involved directly in such matters.

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

That, and a tougher-than-most-people-think Regular Season schedule that includes match-ups at home in the Superdome (but likely without fans in attendance to provide a home-field advantage) against the 49ers, Eagles, the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, the playoff nemesis Minnesota Vikings, and two games each against tough division rivals Tampa and Atlanta; there aren’t any guarantees whatsoever for success.

But this Saints team, perhaps more so than any other in recent memory, is very determined and extremely  focused upon winning it all and bringing another Lombardi Trophy to NOLA; and if you are the type of person who’s unafraid or are willing to make a bet on something that you believe to be a ‘sure thing’ — then you might want to make a small investment on the team from the “Big Easy” with the fleur-de-lis on their helmets — to finally bring home some hardware after 3 straight years of heart-break.

The 2020 Regular Season for the New Orleans Saints is ‘Super Bowl or bust” — and the Black and Gold hope that they’re holding what turns out (finally) to be the “winning hand”….


Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked previously as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending their games as a young boy during the early 1970’s, uptown at the old Tulane Stadium. He is also the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

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