Reggie Bush had 855 all-purpose yards for the Saints in 2009.
In poker they call it a pat hand. The NFL football equivalent is the New Orleans Saints.
Every key contributor from the 2010 title team is back and, as a result, the books have established the Saints (and Colts) as 9/1 co-favorites to return to the Super Bowl. Whether New Orleans can repeat its 13-0 start from a year ago remains to be seen, but the Saints have the firepower to at least make life miserable for the rest of the league.
Sean Payton begins his fifth year as the Saints head coach and he’s been nothing short of phenomenal since his arrival on Bourbon Street. He took over a team that was 3-13 in 2005 and proceeded to change the fortunes of the franchise overnight, guiding the Saints to a 10-6 record and a spot in the 2006 NFC finals where they lost to the Bears. It was one of those years in which everything the Saints touched turned to gold and it began with the decision to sign QB Drew Brees.
Brees had spent his entire NFL career in San Diego but was deemed expendable by the Chargers who low balled an offer to the former Purdue signal caller after the ’05 season. After San Diego refused to increase the proposed deal, he met with the Saints and Dolphins. When Miami opted to go with Daunte Culpepper instead, Brees signed with the Saints and the rest, as they say, is history.
New Orleans went 13-3 last NFL football season (8-8 ATS) and it was due in large part to a record-breaking NFL football offense that led the league in yardage per game (403.8) and in scoring (31.9). Brees finished first in the NFL in touchdown passes (34), first in passer rating (109.6), sixth in yardage (4,398) and was named to his fourth Pro-Bowl game.
Saints receivers were among the best in the business. Marques Colston had 70 catches and nine touchdowns. Devery Henderson made 51 grabs and Robert Meachem contributed 45 receptions and nine scores. The tight ends also figured prominently in the passing game with Jeremy Shockey and David Thomas combining for 83 receptions.
New Orleans' running game, featuring Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush, ranked sixth in the league with 131.6 yards per game, and both players were equally proficient as receivers. Thomas had a combined 1,114 yards, including eight touchdowns, while Bush was perhaps the most versatile back in the league had 47 receptions, 855 yards and eight touchdowns, three of those coming on punt returns. Bush is also the most hated man in Southern California, but that’s another story for another day.
The Saints' NFL football defense could best be described as bend, no break. The unit ranked 25th overall allowing 357.8 yards per game, and 26th in passing giving up 235.6 yards per contest.
However, New Orleans defenders also created 39 takeaways more than any other team except the Packers who had 40. Darren Sharper led the way with nine interceptions while DE Will Smith had three fumble recoveries, one pick and a team-high 13 sacks.
The Saints remain the top choice to win the NFC championship, but NFL bettors are giving the Cowboys and Packers (6/1) a look-see as well. New Orleans remains a huge minus 160 favorite to take the NFC South crown with the Falcons next at plus 200. NFL
football betting odds.
The Saints started 2009 on a 6-0 streak both SU and ATS but went 2-8 against the number to close the regular season. They were just 1-5 ATS against the NFC South, but 5-0 in the money department against the AFC (including that really big game on February 7).
In the 'totals' department, Payton’s Posse went 9-7 to the 'under,' including 5-3 at home and 5-1 to the low side against division rivals.
The last NFL football team to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles was New England which turned the trick in 2004-05. Those Patriot teams had better balance than this group which is going to need to improve on defense if it is going to repeat as NFL champs.
The Saints ambushed a lot of teams last year but they won’t have the surprise factor working for them in 2010. These guys, as they say in the record business, are No. 1 with a bullet. They’ll also have a big target on their back as well.