In QB Drew Brees' final go with the New Orleans Saints, he led the team to the playoffs with a 12-4 record. But he came up short in the Divisional Round against the eventual Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brees has since retired, and Jameis Winston will now command the offense for the 2021 season. The roster this year isn't the same as last season, and has several holes.
WR Michael Thomas is out on the PUP list. CB Marshon Lattimore is the only real threat in the secondary. DT David Onyemata is serving a suspension, and depth is weak at key positions like WR and CB. New Orleans built up the defense in the draft, but this team has a long way to go to be the same playoff team from last season.
New Orleans Saints win-loss predictions
Week 1 - vs Green Bay Packers
It is a rough draw, as Jameis Winston's first game is against Aaron Rodgers. Even with Thomas and Onyemata, it would be a tough game to win. Winston just has to keep it close with minimal errors to keep in good faith with the coaches and fans.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers 26 - New Orleans Saints 17.
Week 2 - at Carolina Panthers
Christian McCaffrey will also be heavily used, and this could be a low-scoring game with high rushing yards. Kamara is a safer bet to get over 150 yards and a TD.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints 13 - Carolina Panthers 9.
Week 3 - at New England Patriots
Two years ago, this would have been a close, hard-fought match and potential Game of the Week. Now, it's a rookie against a journeyman.
Mac Jones could start off the season with great momentum, which isn't good for the New Orleans Saints' secondary. RB Damien Harris could be a dark horse in this game, and score a last-minute long run for a game-winning field goal.
Prediction: New England Patriots 20 - New Orleans Patriots 17.
Week 4 - at New York Giants
Malcolm Jenkins and Cameron Jordan are two of the best defenders for the New Orleans Saints, with David Onyemata sidelined. The New York Giants have Saquon Barkley back, but the Saints' secondary is the real issue. If the Giants can control Jenkins and Jordan long enough for Daniel Jones to get the ball out, it would be game over.
Prediction: New York Giants 21 - New Orleans Saints 18.
Week 5 - at Washington Football Team
Washington could have a top-3 defense by the end of the season, even if their offense doesn't hold up. Jameis Winston will look for a standout win early in the season, and this could be it. Winston can put up big numbers at times, but he has to control the ball while doing so.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints 27 - Washington Football Team 21.
Week 6 - Bye Week
Week 7 - at Seattle Seahawks
QB Russell Wilson has a stacked offense, but the defense is a weakness, more so after trading CB Ahkello Witherspoon. The New Orleans Saints have a chance if Jameis Winston limits his turnovers and Michael Thomas is able to return to the field. It'll come down to the wire, but Bobby Wagner or Jamal Adams could make a game-winning play.
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 30 - New Orleans Saints 28.
Week 8 - vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The New Orleans Saints lost in the Divisional Round with Drew Brees last year. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the same starting lineup from last season. The odds are that Jameis Winston could slip up and hand the game over to Tampa Bay.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26 - New Orleans Saints 19.
Week 9 - vs Atlanta Falcons
There's a ton of hype surrounding Atlanta with their offense, but it may not translate to a great record for them this year.
The New Orleans Saints should be fully intact with all of their pieces by this game. The Falcons should be very competitive in this game with Matt Ryan throwing to Kyle Pitts and Calvin Ridley. But the Saints should come out on top.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints 24 - Atlanta Falcons 13.
Week 10 - at Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans had an amazing run in 2020, but it could be difficult to repeat that. RB Derrick Henry is one of the toughest SOBs, but his body has to be taking some damage over the past few years.
Their passing attack got better with Julio Jones, but their defense is not elite. The New Orleans Saints don't have a better defense, but there are more playmakers at their end.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints 21 - Tennessee Titans 14.
Week 11 - at Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles could easily be the worst team in the NFC East. They seem to be heading towards using several QBs this year. It's a shame, as the rest of this roster could make them a playoff game.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints 23 - Philadelphia Eagles 16.
Week 12 - vs Buffalo Bills
QB Josh Allen is buzzing as the favorite to win the MVP, and could be well on his way to doing that by this point. Jameis Winston could prove he can control the ball better, but Buffalo's defense could be sneaky good this year.
Prediction: Buffalo Bills 17 - New Orleans Saints 10.
Week 13 - vs Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are desperate to win the Super Bowl in 202,1 and have the pieces to do some real damage. The New Orleans Saints' defense may not fare too well, especially in a shootout.
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 30 - New Orleans Saints 20.
Week 14 - at New York Jets
QB Zach Wilson could be building a case for Rookie of the Year. He might have a couple of solid wins under his belt when the New Orleans Saints come to town.
The Jets' limited offensive weapons could make it tough, but rookie RB Michael Carter is due for a big moment. Alvin Kamara could have over 100 yards, but Carter might score the game-winning TD.
Prediction: New York Jets 23 - New Orleans Saints 20.
Week 15 - at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In primetime on Sunday night, I foresee some fatigue with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' older roster, which the New Orleans Saints could take advantage of. It won't be a blowout, but Alvin Kamara could pound his way through the defense for two TDs.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints 20 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14.
Week 16 - vs Miami Dolphins
The New Orleans Saints could catch a break to finish off the season. The Miami Dolphins have a good roster, but Alvin Kamara could be hitting his stride and make the Saints run with him. 100+ yards and two TDs could be good enough for a win as Jameis Winston may not chance it against Miami's secondary.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints 27 - Miami Dolphins 20.
Week 17 - vs Carolina Panthers
Christian McCaffrey and Sam Darnold will look for redemption from earlier in the season, which means it could be a rushing frenzy. Whoever finds the open hole late in the fourth quarter could give their team the win. Alvin Kamara could be that guy, with the Saints having the playoffs within reach.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints 21 - Carolina Panthers 17.
Week 18 - at Atlanta Falcons
The New Orleans Saints could be on the brink of the playoffs. Atlanta might already be eliminated and assessing their future with their young stars. That doesn't mean the Falcons would be down for the count, though. Matt Ryan could look to go out guns blazing and narrowly win, knocking the Saints off a playoff berth.
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 27 - New Orleans Saints 23.
New Orleans Saints season record prediction
8-9, 2nd in the NFC South. There may be no playoff berth, but there'll be hope for the future. The defense should be an offseason priority.