Every NFL season brings with it outliers who far exceed expectations or disappoint miserably. With the futures odds set for the 2021-22 NFL season, we examine that broad range of possibilities for the New Orleans Saints.
When Last We Met
The New Orleans Saints started off their 2020 season on a bad note. They were 2-2 in their first four matchups and were lousy versus the NFL betting lines but ended up rattling off eight straight wins to get them to 10-2. The rest of their season was filled with some ups and downs, clinching a postseason spot with their 12-4 record overall before getting bounced in the playoffs. Even with a strong record, it wasn’t enough to lock them into the first-round bye, so they had to face the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card round. They controlled that game from start to finish and walked away with a 21-9 victory to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round.
The Buccaneers were a team that New Orleans dominated in both matchups in the regular season but the playoff showdown was very different. It was a close game through the first three quarters, but Tampa Bay broke it open in the second half, winning 30-20 and leading to a Bucs cover in the sportsbook. This game hit a lot harder for their organization due to the retirement of their future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.
If you were betting online, this wasn’t the year that you were hoping New Orleans would achieve. Analysts were projecting the Saints to make another run at the Super Bowl, but it just didn’t come together. That has been a consistent story for the team the past couple of years.
To Miss the Playoffs (-140)
The Saints’ NFL playoff odds seem to be one of the hardest to predict teams in the NFL this upcoming season and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. Their roster is still filled with great talent but the concerns surrounding the quarterback position are apparent. The way this team completely misses out on the postseason is if they aren’t able to lessen the impact of Brees stepping away from the sport. Jameis Winston is expected to start and we all know how explosive he can be when he’s on point. At the same time, he could simultaneously be a disaster. He’s an interception-throwing machine. If he doesn’t perform well, they could fall into an early hole and turn to Taysom Hill, who seriously struggled passing the football in his few starts from last season when Brees was injured. Their defense should be able to keep the Saints afloat if this happens, but without a true No. 2 cornerback across from Marshon Lattimore, this defense could be vulnerable in the secondary. Any of these things happening could easily knock them out of playoff contention.
To Make the Playoffs (-110)
If the Saints want to prove all of the doubters who are making their NFL predictions wrong and make it into the postseason in 2021, they will need excellent play from the quarterback position. If Sean Payton opts to roll with Winston early on, he needs to play like the explosive quarterback that we got to see at certain times in Tampa Bay. That means not seeing a repeat of the interception-prone version that registered a 30-pick season, including six pick-sixes. Assuming Winston gets going, he has a superb dual-threat running back Alvin Kamara. However, No. 1 wide receiver Michael Thomas is expected to miss the first few weeks of the season after undergoing surgery to repair ankle ligaments in June.
This team is also going to need some defensive help and should be able to get just that. There are still tremendous concerns regarding their No. 2 cornerback spot, but this group is very well rounded outside of that. New Orleans’ defensive line is stout with Cameron Jordan leading the way and Marcus Davenport on the other side for support. You also can’t forget that Saints head coach Payton is one of the most intelligent offensive minds in football and will always give them a chance to score points and be effective. That could pave the way for them making the playoffs.
To Win the NFC South (+300)
Winning the division title won’t be easy this season, as the NFL division odds suggest. The Buccaneers have a ridiculous amount of momentum heading in and not only did they get revenge on the Saints and eliminate them from the postseason, they also won the Super Bowl. On top of that, they’re bringing back all 22 starters. Their defense is very young and fast all around, making a perfect complement to Tom Brady on the offensive end. Brady has a load of weapons to throw to, including Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski, along with a solid offensive line. It is hard to imagine them not claiming the division, so the Saints will need to beat them in both matchups to be in contention.
The rest of the division isn’t as dangerous as Tampa Bay. The Carolina Panthers were able to grab Sam Darnold from the New York Jets in the offseason to act as their new franchise quarterback. He will get the privilege of playing alongside Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Robby Anderson in what could be an explosive offense if all things work out. Their defense is still very young and inconsistent, though, which could prove to be too much of an issue to overcome. They are talented but it doesn’t seem like they are ready to compete for a winning record just yet.
Finally, there’s the Atlanta Falcons, who are arguably the worst team in the division for obvious reasons. They traded superstar wide receiver Julio Jones in the offseason and chose to draft tight end Kyle Pitts in the first round of the NFL Draft. Matt Ryan will likely be the starting quarterback once again but will have a severe lack of talent offensively outside of Calvin Ridley and Pitts now that Jones is gone. Their defense is also one of the absolute worst groups in the league and the team didn’t make enough moves to turn that around this season. The Saints can easily make it past both the Panthers and Falcons but will have severe trouble with the Buccaneers for the division title.
To Win the NFC (+1100)
The NFC is no easy conference this upcoming NFL season as there are a few teams that will likely stand in the Saints way in 2021. We have already mentioned the Buccaneers, who are likely to contend for the conference crown for the second straight year, but the Los Angeles Rams are another team to watch out for. The group was already very well balanced last season and has since traded young quarterback Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions in exchange for the veteran signal caller Mathew Stafford.
The addition of Stafford gives the team experience on offense, which should have tons of fun with a strong line and wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. The running back group was stacked until an injury to Cam Akers. Their defense also has Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and a number of young talented guys in the secondary. It will be very difficult for anybody to match up against this team. The Saints don’t appear to have the personnel to do that if they face off in the postseason.
The Green Bay Packers are another team that should be considered one of the more dangerous units. However, the friction between the club and Aaron Rodgers dominated the offseason, although the sides appeared to have reached agreement on a number of issues. With Rodgers under center, the Packers will be superior to the Saints. They beat them in a shootout last season with Brees at the helm and should give them more problems this season.
Overall, the Saints only have a few clear-cut teams that are better than them heading into this season. Maybe they could get lucky and avoid playing any of them in the first few rounds of the postseason if things go their way. Their NFL conference odds sit at +1100.
To Win the Super Bowl (+2500)
It is rightfully a longshot for the Saints to emerge as Super Bowl winners this upcoming season, but it isn’t impossible. They aren’t the team they used to be, which is why their Super Bowl Odds are so long.
First, they would have to make it out of their division and through the gauntlet that is the NFC. Once they are able to do that, they will face the team that represents the AFC. The Kansas City Chiefs are one team that comes to mind quickly. They have been dominant in the last couple two seasons, led by their generational talent in Patrick Mahomes. Unfortunately, they lost in the Super Bowl to the Buccaneers last season but still are going to contend again. The combination of Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce alongside a stellar offensive line and a great young running back is just too much to overcome for New Orleans. The Saints would have to be near perfect in order to beat the Chiefs in the big game considering their defense would have some issues against them.
The Buffalo Bills are another team that may make it far enough. Led by young quarterback Josh Allen, they took a massive step forward last season. The addition of Stefon Diggs kick-started the development of Allen, which is why the Bills turned into a powerhouse. If they are able to get a strong rushing attack and a solid offensive line, Buffalo will cause opposing teams fits. The Saints would struggle with Buffalo as well. Allen is a little too mobile and the Saints have been terrible against quarterbacks that can run in recent years.
All in all, it’s not looking too good for New Orleans to win the Super Bowl. However, anything can happen when you have Winston as your starting quarterback. If he is able to play up to his potential, then this group can have a massive year and could be a factor for Super Bowl betting.