Before the NFL season began, there was speculation that Alvin Kamara and the Saints were far apart on a contract extension. However, in mid-September, they agreed to a deal that included more than $77 million overall and a $15 million signing bonus.
Kamara has been one of the best players in the NFL through three weeks, as he has helped the Saints’ top-10 offense with the second-most receptions in the league (27), the most yards from scrimmage (438), and the most rushing and receiving touchdowns (six).
Although star WR Michael Thomas suffered a high-ankle injury, New Orleans has succeeded in offense. However, the Saints need to improve their ability to gain yardage on offense and produce in the red zone. While New Orleans has scored the eighth-most points in the league, they have the 18th-most yards and have scored touchdowns on just eight of 14 red zone attempts.
Through three weeks, the 1-2 Saints have had defense problems and have been by far the most penalized team in the league. The Saints have more than 110 penalty yards per game, which is almost 30 more penalty yards than the Arizona Cardinals, who have the second-most.
With veteran quarterback Drew Brees having difficulty throwing downfield, New Orleans will need to decrease the number of penalty yards if the team wants to make it to the postseason for the fourth consecutive year.
Read Also: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Predictions and Odds
2020 Saints Draft Picks
Cesar Ruiz, C (Michigan)
Zack Baun, LB (Wisconsin)
Adam Trautman, TE (Dayton)
Tommy Stevens, QB (Mississippi State)
Notable Other New Faces for the Saints
Jameis Winston, QB
Michael Burton, FB
Emmanuel Sanders, WR
Ty Montgomery, WR
Bennie Fowler, WR
Margus Hunt, DT
Johnson Bademosi, CB
Grant Haley, CB (practice squad)
Malcolm Jenkins, S
Notable Saints in New Places
Teddy Bridgewater, QB – Carolina Panthers
Ted Ginn Jr., WR – Chicago Bears
Keith Kirkwood, WR – Carolina Panthers
Maurice Harris, WR – released
Taylor Stallworth, DT – Indianapolis Colts
Mario Edwards Jr., DE – Chicago Bears
A.J. Klein, LB – Buffalo Bills
Eli Apple, CB – Carolina Panthers
Vonn Bell, S – Cincinnati Bengals
Notable Saints on the Injury Report
Ty Montgomery, RB – placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury; expected to return for Week 7
Michael Thomas, WR – questionable for Week 4 with an ankle injury
Jared Cook, TE – questionable for Week 4 with a groin injury
Andrus Peat, OG – questionable for Week 4 with an ankle injury
David Onyemata, DT – questionable for Week 4 with a calf injury
Jalen Dalton, DT – placed on injured reserve with a triceps injury
Marcus Davenport, DE – questionable for Week 4 with an elbow injury
Anthony Lanier, DE – questionable for Week 4 for an undisclosed reason
Kiko Alonso, OLB – placed on the Physically Unable to Perform List with a knee injury; expected to return for Week 8
Chase Hansen, LB – questionable for Week 4 with a hip injury
Marshon Lattimore, CB – questionable for Week 4 with a hamstring injury
Janoris Jenkins, CB – questionable for Week 4 with an illness
Johnson Bademosi, CB – placed on injured reserve for an undisclosed reason
Blake Gillikin, P – placed on injured reserve with a back injury; expected to return for Week 4
Saints Who Have Opted Out of 2020 NFL Season
Jason Vander Laan, TE
Cole Wick, TE
Saints Offense Predictions
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees has teamed up with Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas to win more than 10 games and make the postseason each of the previous three seasons, but they may have their toughest test in 2020. 41-year-old Brees (760 passing yards and six touchdowns in 2020) is the best player in Saints franchise history, but the end of his career is in sight.
With head coach Sean Payton, Brees has been very successful, and together they have just three seasons with a negative point differential with the Saints. They hope not to have 2020 be the fourth season, as opponents have outscored New Orleans by six points through six weeks.
Saints Running Backs: Can Alvin Kamara Keep With the Tremendous Pace and Win the Offensive Player of the Year Award?
Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray have been very productive thus far this season, as they are the two team leaders in yards from scrimmage this season. Kamara has been an Offensive Player of the Year Award candidate as he leads the team with 153 rushing yards and 285 receiving yards.
Brees has relied on Kamara as his safety blanket, as the running back leads all players with 284 yards after the catch this season. Although Kamara has all the rushing touchdowns on the team, Murray has still had 30 rushing attempts for 120 yards.
Saints Wide Receivers: Are Michael Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith, and Emmanuel Sanders Enough for the Saints?
While Alvin Kamara has been doing almost everything for the Saints offense this season, they need some production from their wide receivers to succeed in 2020. Unfortunately, Michael Thomas has been dealing with an ankle injury and has played just one game thus far. He only contributed three receptions for 17 yards in the 34-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.
Tre’Quan Smith (10 receptions for 132 receiving yards this season), Emmanuel Sanders (eight receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns) have helped fill the void, but unfortunately, there does not seem to be enough help for Brees. Backup quarterback, running back, and receiver Taysom Hill has been used sparingly, as he has played just 10 snaps combined in the last two games.
Saints Tight Ends: Can Jared Cook Finish the Season as a Top Three, or Even Top Two, Pass-Catcher for the Team?
Jared Cook is one of three players with a receiving touchdown for the Saints this season. He ranks third on the team in receptions (nine), receiving yards (114), and touchdowns (one). The 12-year veteran is questionable for Week 4, so, unfortunately, he may not end up playing all 16 games in his 2020 season. He left Week 3’s contest with a groin injury. With the injury to Michael Thomas, Cook becomes an even more important player for the Saints, so Drew Brees and company hope he is active for Week 4.
Read Also: Atlanta Falcons Predictions and Odds
Saints Defense Predictions
The Saints attempted to solidify their defense with a sign-and-trade deal with the Cleveland Browns to acquire former Seattle Seahawks defensive end and current Tennessee Titan Jadeveon Clowney. New Orleans was not successful in trading for Clowney and, therefore, missed out on him.
Unfortunately, the Saints have had difficulty on defense, as five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordon, who led the team with a career-high 15.5 sacks in 2019, has yet to sack the quarterback 2020.
However, the Saints have strong safety Malcolm Jenkins back in New Orleans. Through three weeks, he is the team leader in tackles with 22. He signed a four-year, $32 million contract during the offseason so that Saints fans will be seeing a lot of the 32-year-old.
New Orleans also kept free safety D.J. Swearinger, who played with the Raiders in 2019. The Saints brought him back on a one-year, $1.1 million contract. He will serve as a backup.
There are a couple of bright notes about the Saints defense: while New Orleans allows the sixth-most points in the NFL this season, the defense has allowed the 10th-fewest yards.
Also, it has been 46 straight contests in which the Saints have not allowed a 100-yard rusher. If the rushing defense can continue to stay strong, the New Orleans defensive unit as a whole has a chance of turning around this season.
Read Also: Carolina Panthers Predictions and Odds
Saints Special Teams Predictions
Wil Lutz, who turned 26 years old in July, has been perfect thus far in 2020. He has made at least a field goal and three extra points in the Saints’ three games this season. Lutz has yet to attempt a 50-yard field goal in 2020. The 2019 Pro Bowler has made 12 of his 20 attempts from at least 50 yards in his career.
Lutz grew up in Newman, Georgia, and played his college ball at Georgia State after finishing a perfect season as a high school senior. He then went undrafted in 2016. He signed with the Baltimore Ravens in May 2016 but then was waived a few months later.
The Saints then scooped up Lutz in September 2016, and he then made the All-Rookie Team. Lutz has been one of the league’s best kickers since landing in New Orleans. He has the fourth-best field goal percentage in NFL history.
Saints Head Coach Predictions
Sean Payton played quarterback at Eastern Illinois and went undrafted in 1987 before playing in the Arena Football League and Canadian Football League. He also played for the Chicago Bears when the NFL players were striking that year. In 1988, the current Saints head coach also had a brief stint as the Leicester Panthers quarterback in England.
Then, Payton began his coaching career as an offensive assistant at San Diego State. He rose the ranks at different colleges, including the University of Illinois, before making it to the NFL. His first professional coaching job was as the quarterback’s coach with the Philadelphia Eagles.
He then went to the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys before joining the New Orleans Saints in 2006. Payton’s 132 career wins as the head coach are the most in franchise history. He also has an 8-7 postseason record to go along with the Lombardi Trophy from Super Bowl XLIV. At 56 years old, Payton has many years left in the tank as the head coach of New Orleans.
Saints Predictions for Week 4
The 1-2 Saints opened as a four-point favorite against the 1-2 Detroit Lions in Week 4’s contest at Ford Field. The line has remained at four points, but the over/under has decreased from 56 to 54 points. With Michael Thomas and Jared Cook, both hobbled, there does not seem to be much value in taking the Saints here.
The Lions have wide receiver Kenny Golladay back in the lineup. He played his first game of the season in Week 3 and caught six passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, as the Lions upset the Cardinals. The meeting between the Saints and Lions should be close, but Saints fans must hope that Brees can get into a better rhythm with his receivers not entirely to rely on Alvin Kamara.
Saints Predictions for 2020 Season
Last year, the Saints went 11-5 against the spread, which was the best mark in the NFL. Unfortunately, New Orleans may be overrated this season. Before the 2020 regular season began, the Saints were tied with the San Francisco 49ers with a 2020 over/under of 10.5 wins, which was the highest among NFC teams.
In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens entered the season, each with an over/under of 11.5 wins. Even with the 1-2 start, New Orleans is tied with the Green Bay Packers for the third-highest Super Bowl futures odds at +1500. Besides, the Saints and Buccaneers are both +100 to win the NFC South. There is not enough value to bet on the Saints at this point.