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New Orleans Saints: 2016 Preview, Offseason Recap, Status Report, Schedule, Outlook

New Orleans Saints 2016 Preview

July 24, 2016

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After winning a combined 14 games the last two seasons, the pressure is on the New Orleans Saints and head coach Sean Payton. The Saints haven’t missed the playoffs three straight seasons since 2003-05, which happened to be the last time Jim Haslett coached the team.

Can the Saints get back on track after a few speed bumps?

New Orleans Saints: 2016 Preview, Offseason Recap, Status Report, Schedule, Outlook

USA TODAY Sports

Here is your New Orleans Saints 2016 NFL preview.

Key Player Losses: The Saints decided to finally cut some dead weight, which includes offensive lineman Jahri Evans, wide receiver Marques Colston and tight end Benjamin Watson. All three of those players are getting up there in age and the production has slipped drastically. Running back Khiry Robinson also left for New York after three seasons with New Orleans and finishing third on the team in rushing yards last year.

Key Player Additions: The Saints helped Drew Brees out a ton by adding tight end Coby Fleener, who has 17 touchdown receptions in four seasons. Fleener and Brees should have a similar connection as Brees and Jimmy Graham. The Saints then stockpiled defensive players, including defensive tackle Nick Fairley, safety Roman Harper and linebacker James Laurinaitis. Fairley is the biggest pickup after New Orleans ranked 31st in rushing yards allowed last season.

Draft: The Saints defense needed some serious help and defensive end Sheldon Rankins should contribute towards that cause. Rankings is a playmaker on the outside but also has the ability to play inside if needed. Michael Thomas is a deep threat at wide receiver with blazing speed and the ability to highpoint the football. Brees will fall in love with Thomas very quickly. Vonn Bell is a polished safety who can also cover some of the fastest receivers on the field. David Onyemata was also arguably the strongest defensive lineman in the draft and should be more effective now that he dropped weight.

Outlook: As I said in the Falcons preview, the New Orleans Saints have the potential to be a wild card team given that there’s not much separation between the other three teams in the NFC South. Even with Brees getting older, he’s still one of the more effective quarterbacks in the league when he has time to throw the ball. The one concern is the Saints defense that needs to take several steps forward. The Saints could have another subpar season with seven or eight wins, or they could take a minor step forward and push for nine wins and a playoff berth for the first time since 2013.

New Orleans Saints 2016 Schedule:

Sept. 11, Oakland Raiders, 12:00

Sept. 18, at New York Giants, 12:00

Sept. 26, Atlanta Falcons (Mon), 7:30

Oct. 2, at San Diego Chargers, 3:25

BYE

Oct. 16, Carolina Panthers, 12:00

Oct. 23, at Kansas City Chiefs, 12:00

Oct. 30, Seattle Seahawks, 12:00

Nov. 6, at San Francisco 49ers, 3:05

Nov. 13, Denver Broncos, 12:00

Nov. 17, at Carolina Panthers (Thu), 7:25

Nov. 27, Los Angeles Rams, 12:00

Dec. 4, Detroit Lions, 12:00

Dec. 11, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 12:00

Dec. 18, at Arizona Cardinals, 3:05

Dec. 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sat), 12:00

Jan. 1, at Atlanta Falcons, 12:00

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