QBList Super Bowl Predictor

The Pick

 

New Orleans Saints

 

How could the Saints not win the Super Bowl this year? Think of the storylines. Think of the redemption after the mishap in Los Angeles last season. Think of Drew Brees riding off into the sunset with one more Super Bowl win. Or, think of him returning for 2020–a champ–taking his retirement victory lap on the way to a back-to-back Super Bowl win finish ala John Elway. I’m giddy thinking about it. Alright, so these things don’t always follow the most fun storyline. Fair enough. Let’s get into the actual stats:

The New Orleans Saints were 7th in passing offense, 16th in rushing offense, 9th in total offense, 20th in passing defense, 4th in rushing defense, and 11th in overall defense. Those are solid–though hardly mind-boggling stats. Why the Saints? First, New Orleans has no statistical weakness. They are ‘safe’ in every stat and don’t have a bad loss since week 10 when the Falcons beat them 26-9. Okay, but why the Saints? I want the Saints for four reasons:

First is the Drew Brees factor. Drew Brees is completing 74.3 percent of his passes and he rarely makes a mistake. He just sits in the pocket and picks defenses apart. One of the rubs on Brees last year was that he faded. Somehow, I don’t think that will happen after Brees missed 7 games. Speaking of, I haven’t even mentioned the injury yet. The Saints put up a 13-3 record while their quarterback missed seven games. That’s insane! Imagine the Packers without Rodgers or the Seahawks without Wilson? They would fall apart. The Saints were a good team with Teddy Bridgewater, so what are they with Drew Brees? Potentially amazing. It all depends on how they close out the season. I expect it to go well with Brees and Michael Thomas connecting in the playoffs. Speaking of…

Michael Thomas is my second reason to love the Saints in the playoffs. Thomas caught 149 passes this season–good for 9.3 per game. Should I put that in perspective? Only six players in the NFL saw 149 targets this year. Only four other players caught 100 passes, and none of them even caught 117. He caught 10+ passes in six different games, including against the Texans, Rams, 49ers, and Titans. Michael Thomas is at the height of his powers, and he should continue his reign of terror in the playoffs. I love it when a team has a couple of elite weapons they can rely on when things look grim. The first choice is a quarterback (Brees). The second choice is a running back (Alvin Kamara…stay tuned). Third is an excellent receiver. Not many get all three. Speaking of excellent running backs…

Third, we have Alvin Kamara and the rushing attack. Alvin Kamara has proven that he is a special weapon capable of taking over a game. Sure, he isn’t a full workhorse like Christian McCaffrey or Saquon Barkley. However, he is a dynamic playmaker capable of exploding for big plays at any time. How does a defense simultaneously stop Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Jared Cook, and the rest of the offense? That’s a nightmare. Now throw in trick plays with a running quarterback (Taysom Hill) and a thumper back (Latavius Murray) and this is a complete offense. Sure, one more good receiver would be nice. However, most coaches would kill to have this squad. The Saints have an offense that’s good enough to make a Super Bowl run. What about the defense though?

The last thing to like here is the defense. The Saints have held opposing offenses to under 200 passing yards five times. They’ve held them under 250 yards ten times. They’ve only given up two 300-yd passing games. Against the run, the Saints have held six opponents–including Christian McCaffrey and the Panthers–to under 60 yards. Only two opponents have managed 150+ rushing yards against them. Who’s to thank? Cameron Jordan has been a monster on the D-line with 15.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. Outside of that, it’s stout play all around. They only allow 21 points per game against the 28 scored by the offense. It’s not elite, but it’s plenty good considering the offense backing them up.

When it comes right down to it, there are four teams I’d consider as strong Super Bowl contenders: the New England Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens, the San Francisco 49ers, and the New Orleans Saints. The Patriots look like they’re fading, and I don’t think they have four straight good games in them right now. The Ravens are completely reliant upon Lamar Jackson being magical; if one team figures out how to slow him down, they’re in big trouble. That leaves the Niners and Saints. Both teams are excellent and both have a fair stake to the crown. I’ll take the Drew Brees and the Saints over Jimmy G and the Niners.

Essential Stats:

  • The Saints are top-20 in all six yardage categories.
  • Despite missing their quarterback for six games, the Saints still finished as a top-10 offense
  • Of the top-3 contenders’ quarterbacks, only Drew Brees has won a playoff game.

Reason to doubt: so-so pass defense and average rushing attack; heavy reliance on Michael Thomas

Reason to believe: no big holes; elite QB who doesn’t make mistakes; two elite offensive talents

Super Bowl Doppelganger: 2015 New England Patriots

My prediction: Super Bowl Champions

Michael Miklius

Mike is a lifelong Bears fan who is just about ready to give up on Mitch Trubisky for good... Twitter: @SIRL0INofBEEF

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