We're going week-to-week here:
1. vs. Detroit Lions (PICK: Saints, 31-17)
2. at Philadelphia Eagles (PICK: Eagles, 24-21)
3. at Buffalo Bills (PICK: Saints, 24-19)
4. vs. New York Jets (PICK: Saints, 27-14)
6. vs. New York Giants (PICK: Giants, 28-27)
7. at Miami Dolphins (PICK: Saints, 20-14)
8. vs. Atlanta Falcons (PICK: Saints, 23-16)
9. vs. Carolina Panthers (PICK: Panthers, 17-14)
10. at St. Louis Rams (PICK: Saints, 35-14)
11. at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PICK: Saints, 19-9)
12. vs. New England Patriots (PICK: Patriots, 42-38)
13. at Washington Redskins (PICK: Saints, 26-21)
14. at Atlanta Falcons (PICK: Falcons, 16-14)
15. vs. Dallas Cowboys (PICK: Saints, 27-21)
16. vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PICK: Saints, 38-20)
17. at Carolina Panthers (PICK: Saints, 24-17)
Final Record: 11-5
Thoughts (no particular order):
1. I see the Saints sweeping the Bucs. (no big shock)
2. Saints split things with Panthers and Falcons. (slight shock on my part as concerns the Panthers)
3. I think 11-5 is a realistic expectation for this Saints team, based on what we know and what we've seen in the preseason. If I'm venturing into "drinking the Kool-Aid" territory, I could go as high as 13 or 14 wins (flipping the outcome with the Dolphins, Panthers and MAYBE the Eagles). If I'm in a "Woe is Me" mode, things could swing to 8-8 easily (flipping the Cowboys, one of the games against the Bucs, and either the Redskins or Jets)
4. I am near certain that the Saints beat the Lions, Rams and Bucs handily.
5. Depending on how the Giants' wide receivers respond in the first few weeks, I may change my opinion on that game.
6. I WANT TO believe that the Saints would win a shoot out against the Pats on Monday Night Football, but somehow I see the Pats stealing it late, leading to every talking head on ESPN going on and on about how awesome Tom Brady is and forgetting about Drew Brees altogether.
7. I tend to over-think EVERYTHING, so this could very well change when the time comes for a weekly prediction.
So I guess the number to REALLY focus on is 11-5 and an NFC South Division banner in the Superdome for next year.
I will go no further in making a playoff prediction, because as far as I'm concerned, the Saints will ALWAYS have what it takes to appear in the Big Game as long as Drew Brees is lining up behind center.