Are the New Orleans Saints a Playoff team in 2016? Not according to FanSided Network writer and NFL schedule analyst John Buhler.
In his article the other day where he listed the 5 NFL teams with the most difficult schedules in the NFL heading into the 2016 season, Buhler said this about the Saints and their chances at success in 2016, based on his analysis of the schedule that the Saints will face in 2016:
4. New Orleans Saints
“The 2015 Saints went 7-9 and finished in third place in the NFC South. New Orleans will play six games versus the NFC South, four against the AFC West, four against the NFC West, and two against two other third place teams in the NFC from the 2015 NFL season. Those two teams are the New York Giants of the NFC East and the Detroit Lions of the NFC North.
New Orleans’ 2016 opponents combined to go 140-116 for a .547 winning percentage in 2015. That is the fourth toughest 2015 opponents’ winning percentage entering the 2016 NFL season. Even though the Saints have a high-octane offense built around quarterback Drew Brees, head coach Sean Payton will certainly have his work cut out for him entering the 2016 NFL campaign.
New Orleans biggest strength is an innate ability to hold its own in shootouts. Brees seems to get better with age as a pocket passer and can no doubt continue to put up 450 yard, five touchdown performances to keep Saints in games. The problem is that the Saints’ pass defense has been historically bad for the better part of the last five years. That means New Orleans’ only path to victory is to win high scoring games, with Brees in shotgun formation.
Very few teams on the Saints’ 2016 NFL schedule are in obvious decline,which will make it hard for the Saints to “sniff” at .500, let alone attempt to get back into the NFC Playoffs. The Saints performances in the NFC South and against the Giants and Lions will go a long way in determining if they can go 10-6 and earn an NFC Wild Card spot in 2016. However, with that daunting of a schedule, that seems unlikely.”
Not even a “sniff”???
Not even a quick scent or an aroma of the Playoffs?
Just the slightest “whiff”, maybe?
Now certainly I’m not in the business of shooting down an analyst’s take on something (especially one from our own Network) that he’s been doing for much longer than I have, but to dismiss the Saints’ chances of being a Playoff contender when the season is still 5 months away seems a bit premature — at least in my point of view.
I think that Saints fans are much more realistic that they’re given credit for, and many of them know that this won’t be an easy season for our boys in Black and Gold, especially with the 4th hardest schedule in the league this year, compared to having the 5th easiest last year.
Yet, the Saints have just come off a period in Free Agency where they’ve done relatively well considering the limited amount of funds they were working with, and came away with possibly 3 new starters – one on offense (TE Coby Fleener) and possibly two on defense (MLB John Laurinaitis and 3-technique DT Nick Fairley).
The Draft is less than a month away, and if the Saints land a few “impact players” with this year’s incoming class, to put alongside last year’s promising class that included two more potential returning future starters from injury (linebacker / defensive end Davis Tull and cornerback P.J. Williams), then who knows what might happen?
So to say that the Saints won’t even “sniff” .500 much less the Playoffs, seems a bit harsh in my estimation.
But — for a moment, let’s go ahead and take Buhler strictly at his word.
Here are just a few of the “toughest” opponents or games I see the Saints facing, in the upcoming 2016 season.
Starting with these guys………