New Orleans Saints
Head coach: Sean Payton (13th year)
Last year’s record: 13-3-0, lost NFC Championship vs. Los Angeles Rams, 26-23
First game: Sept. 9 vs. Houston Texans
Win total: Over/Under 10.5 (Over 10.5 +100, Under 10.5 -120)
Super Bowl odds: +800
Who could forget the controversial no-call to end New Orleans’ season in the NFC championship against the Rams? The Saints certainly haven’t, and most everyone from last year’s team is back in 2019 to seek vengeance on the league and claim the Super Bowl ring many thought the Saints would collect last year.
Who’s in and who’s out
The Saints managed to suffer only a few major losses in the offseason. In March, Pro Bowl center Max Unger retired with a year still left on his contract. New Orleans responded by signing Nick Easton away from the Vikings during free agency. The Saints also convinced quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to stay at least another season as backup to Drew Brees, while tight end Jared Cook signed a two-year, $15.5 million contract, adding another option on offense.
Running back Mark Ingram (645 yards, six touchdowns) left in free agency to play with the Ravens, but the run game should be just fine. Latavius Murray joined the Saints on a four-year, $14.4 million contract to help carry the load with star back Alvin Kamara (883 yards, 14 touchdowns).
On defense the Saints must replace defensive end Alex Okafor, who signed with the Chiefs in the offseason. On a positive note New Orleans signed former Patriot defensive tackle Malcolm Brown to a three-year, $15 million contract.
As for fresh, young talent, New Orleans drafted center Erik McCoy of Texas A&M in the second round, safeties Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Florida) and Saquan Hampton (Rutgers) in the fourth and sixth round, respectively, and tight end Alize Mack (Notre Dame) and linebacker Kaden Elliss (Idaho) in the seventh round.
First game of the season, Sept. 9, 7:10 p.m. ET, Superdome
Houston Texans (+220) at New Orleans (-275)
Spread: Saints -7 (+100)
Over/Under: Over 53.5 (-105), Under 53.5 (-105)
The Texans finished 2018 with an 11-5 record and playoff berth, ultimately losing to the Colts 21-7 in the wild-card round. Playing New Orleans on the Saints’ turf to open the season will be too difficult of a test for Houston, though the Texans should cover the -7 spread.
Over/Under win total: 10.5
Schedule (bold font indicates home game): Texans, Rams, Seahawks, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Jaguars, Bears, Cardinals, BYE, Falcons, Buccaneers, Panthers, Falcons, 49ers, Colts, Titans, Panthers
A road game at Seattle could be New Orleans’ first loss of the season. The Saints will struggle on the road against the Bears, as well. Other potential challenges lie against the Falcons on a short week and a second date with the Panthers to close the season. When it’s all said and done, the Saints will end up with at least 11 wins. Go with the over.
Follow more NFL coverage on BetAmerica Extra.