Here’s a look at the Super Bowl prospects of the New Orleans Saints, who finished the season 11-5. The tiers consist of: Realistic Super Bowl expectations; Should contend, but there are question marks; Middle of the pack; Lots of work to do; and Nowhere close.
Westgate odds: 16-to-1.
Realistic Super Bowl expectations: These odds seem just about right for the Saints (who have earned a huge upgrade from 60-to-1 at this time last year). They were close enough to sniff the Super Bowl this season, despite finishing with 10 projected starters on injured reserve. And they should only get better, since they were led by a breakout rookie class that included both the NFL’s Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year in running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon Lattimore and three other starters.
Quarterback Drew Brees might not be in his absolute prime anymore at age 39, but he’s still going strong. And the Saints have rebuilt an impressive offensive line, run game and defense around him -- making them about as balanced as they have ever been in the Brees-Sean Payton era. Brees finished with his fewest attempts, passing yards, touchdowns and interceptions per game in his 12 years with the Saints, while setting the NFL record for completion percentage at 72.0.
The Saints are in decent shape with the salary cap this offseason, and they aren’t expected to suffer many losses in free agency (with safety Kenny Vaccaro being the biggest question mark). They don’t have much draft capital, with the No. 27 pick in Round 1 and no second-rounder. But they should be in great shape if they can add some help in the front seven and at tight end -- and stay a little healthier in 2018.
The biggest drawback for New Orleans is that the NFC is absolutely loaded, led by fellow breakout teams like the Eagles, Vikings and Rams; NFC South rivals Carolina and Atlanta; and sleeping giants like the Packers, Cowboys and Seahawks.