As week 13 approaches, the playoff picture is starting to take shape. In the AFC, the true contenders look to be the Patriots, Steelers, Chiefs and Chargers. In the NFC, the Bears, Rams, Vikings and Saints are looking like they are leading the pack.
The Saints – to put it bluntly – are legit. If you watch them play anyone (except for the Bucs in Week 1), they are far and away the best team in the league. As we all know, the best team does not always withstand the rigours of the playoffs. When watching them play, however, it is clear that the Saints are built to compete.
The Saints are my Super Bowl pick, and here are the reasons why:
Loads Upon Loads of Offensive Depth
A critical component of making a Super Bowl run is having a solid rotation. I cannot think of another team in recent memory that is as deep as New Orleans. Let’s go through the roster to further prove their depth.
First, the quarterback. Of course, Drew Brees is central to the Saints’ success. His MVP calibre year is giving people a lot of confidence in New Orleans’ ability to compete. However, in the event that Brees would tragically go down with an injury (almost in Carson Wentz style), the Saints should be fine.
Why’s that, you ask? Here’s a tricky question for you: who would you rather have, Nick Foles or Teddy Bridgewater? Not an easy question, for sure, but I’d take Bridgewater. Also, if Teddy B doesn’t work out, Taysom Hill, the human Swiss Army knife, could slide right into the lineup. Sean Payton’s incorporation of Bridgewater and Hill throughout this season have given me confidence that these two are up for the task of competing in the playoffs (if the time comes).
Second, the running backs. Brees is unquestionably the nucleus in this Saints offense. However, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are the pulse that keeps this train rolling. I love how these two compliment one another; Kamara is so smooth with his running and Ingram is just a bully up the middle. If one goes down, it would hurt, but these are two high-character guys who can be the bell cow.
Third, the receivers. Michael Thomas is a top 5 receiver in the league and is a great leader. Tre’Quan Smith is an ascending rookie who is getting Brees’ attention. Some depth players like Keith Kirkwood, Tommylee Lewis and of course, Brandon Marshall are also impressive. The tight ends aren’t as impressive, but Benjamin Watson and Dan Arnold look like a formidable duo.
Solid Players Who You Don’t Know About
It is important for Super Bowl contenders to have players that other teams won’t necessarily game-plan for, but still make a big impact. There are multiple examples of previous Super Bowl winners who had a few players who dominated the game when the opposing team least expected it.
First, there was the “Helmet Catch” with the heroics of David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII.
Then, there was Malcolm Smith’s impressive performance against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, which gave him Super Bowl MVP Honours.
And then, who could forget this play?
So, with that being said, who are the three players that could be the quiet X-factor if New Orleans goes to the Super Bowl?
Lewis is most definitely not a household name, but like any of Drew Brees’ weapons, he has the ability to change the game. Lewis has decent speed and is slowly getting more comfortable with his Hall of Fame quarterback. Who knows? He could be something special down the line.
Onyemata isn’t known by many, but he’s proving that he is a talented rotational defender for New Orleans. Against the Dallas Cowboys on TNF, Onyemata quietly compiled 3 sacks against Dak Prescott. As he sees more time as a starter, perhaps Onyemata can become beneficial for this Saints defense.
Anzalone was someone I really liked coming out of Florida. His long, blonde hair reminds me of Clay Matthews, and he knows how to put the hit stick down. Could he be a difference maker? I think so. Watch out for 47.
New Orleans is a Super Bowl contender and in each game I see them (aside from the Cowboys game), I like what I see. Drew Brees may be old, but this Saints roster is new and exciting, and I expect them to take home the Lombardi.