The New Orleans Saints are coming off a disastrous and controversial season where they failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. If they’re going to rebound in 2013, they must take advantage of the relatively soft start and finish to their schedule.
Though most of the problems the Saints faced last season can be traced back to the NFL wrongfully suspending head coach Sean Payton, the Saints certainly have issues to address. A porous defense proved to be a liability that even Drew Brees couldn’t negate, and the rest of the division has gotten significantly better over the past few seasons.
With little room for error, the Saints need to start hot and put Bounty-Gate behind them.
After a challenging season opener with the Atlanta Falcons, the Saints have a window in their schedule that must produce wins. Games at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and home against the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals are very winnable. The Saints can easily start the year 3-1.
Though the schedule gets a bit more challenging after their bye week, the Saints should be able to make a strong run down the stretch and enter the playoffs with momentum. They face four teams that missed the playoffs last year to close the season, and should be able to finish strong.
If the Saints can handle business over the stretches of the schedule that are less rigorous, they should be able to get back into the postseason. With Sean Payton back on the bench and Drew Brees leading the offense, memories of last season’s confusion should be erased with a fourth playoff berth in five years.