The Saints will have already played in the Hall of Fame game when they take on Super Bowl bridesmaid, the New England Patriots, in the first week of the preseason. NFL bettors will be evaluating talent just like the coaches on the field.
New Orleans Saints
Bountygate might still be lingering, but at least Drew Brees has signed on the dotted line to
secure his tenure as a member of the New Orleans Saints for the next five
years. While many point to the
suspension of head coach Sean Payton as one of the many reasons the Saints will decline this season, there is in fact a
small faction who believe Roger Goodell's mandates will serve as a rallying cry
for the besieged club.
pointedly stated that Goodell has cultivated an atmosphere of mistrust among NFL players, and that divide has never been wider than it is down on the
Bayou. On August 9, the
preseason gets underway, and it's anyone's guess how much time Brees will have
to work with the first team. But, it
appears that this will be as good a time as any for Brees to make a statement
and prove that his club is still dripping with talent on the offensive side of
the ball. Yes, the Saints lost Robert
Meacham when he took his talents to sunny San Diego but Marques Colston, Devry
Henderson, Lance Moore and, of course, big tight end target Jimmy Graham will
give Brees plenty of worthwhile options.
Saints already beleaguered defense is now without the services of suspended
linebackers Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith, but they did get Curtis Lofton and
David Hawthorne in the offseason. Nevertheless, defense is an Achilles Heel for the Saints and, without a 1st
or 2nd round pick in this year's draft, an immediate upgrade is
New England Patriots
As far as
the offense goes, you can pretty much extol the same virtues and accolades to
the Patriots as the Saints. Tom Brady is
back and so is the evil genius behind the hoodie, Bill Belichick. In fact, a case can be made that the Pats got
even more dangerous when they added Brandon Lloyd to spread the field and
sprinkled that wide receiving corps with veterans Jabar Gaffney, Donte
Stallworth while keeping Deion Branch from last season and letting Chad
Ochocinco Johnson walk all the way down to South Beach. Factor in the best tight end in the business, Rob Gronkowski, and his underrated but trusty sidekick Aaron Hernandez, and you
have an embarrassment of riches at Brady's disposal. Oh, did I forget to mention Wes Welker as a slot
Defensively, the Patriots were lackluster last season with the surprising exception of Mark
Anderson, who now plies his trade in Buffalo after signing a lucrative deal with
the Bills. However, the Pats used their
top two draft picks to bolster the defense when they tabbed Chandler Jones and
Dont'a Hightower in the opening round. Unlike the Saints, the Patriots should be much more competitive this
season when they are lined up against opposing offenses.
It would be
unfathomable for franchise quarterbacks Drew Brees and Tom Brady to be out on the field very long. There would be a
whole lotta 'splainin' to do if either got injured in a meaningless
preseason game, particularly when Week 1 is all about scouting and evaluating
the bubble players on the roster.
So, we will have primarily a battle of second and
third tier players battling for their professional lives. Which group is better? Who knows, but I can tell you I love the new
kids the Pats have drafted and home field advantage never hurts particularly
when a team like the Patriots have been sitting and stewing since February,
waiting to atone for their Super Bowl loss.
Pick: Play the Pats