By the end of the season, the Saints will have to make the playoffs and the answer is probably “yes.”
The team will have more than enough talent to make a deep playoff run, but it will take some time for that to happen.
The Saints have a strong core that includes Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks, Jimmy Graham, Alvin Kamara and Alvin Kamaro.
Brees will return to the lineup this season after missing the previous four with a concussion.
Cooks and Kamara are still around and will continue to contribute to the team’s success.
Graham is one of the most productive receivers in the NFL and Kamaro will be back after missing all of last season with a torn ACL.
The team also has two top-tier tight ends in Kenny Stills and Victor Cruz.
The Saints will also add a dynamic running back in Alvin Kamaroles, who has emerged as one of Brees’ top targets in his return to New Orleans.
The offense is a potent one, and Brees is the best quarterback in the game.
But this year’s defense is not quite there.
New Orleans will be without defensive end Cameron Jordan for at least the first two weeks of the regular season.
Jordan missed the Saints season opener against the Colts because of a sprained left ankle.
He has played only three games since.
The loss of Jordan will hurt the Saints secondary, which is a weak group that includes rookie CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, second-round rookie LB Shea McClellin and free agent CB Quincy Wilson.
The secondary also lacks depth, and the team has already lost top CB Keenan Lewis to a season-ending knee injury.
The defense will be a major concern for the Saints.
The offensive line and receivers are in the middle of rebuilding projects, and New Orleans is not in the best shape in the NFC South.
The quarterback situation has been a major question mark, as Drew Brees is not playing.
The season will likely go down as Brees’ last with the team, and it’s unclear if he will be able to stay healthy for the playoffs.
The front office has already made some moves to shore up the defense, but they will need to make another big move before they can have a chance to win the NFC East.
The biggest change might come on offense, where Brees is expected to return to action.
New Orleans will look to find a way to win with the help of running back Alvin Kamari, who is one year removed from leading the Saints in rushing yards (1,096).
The Saints need a big game from Kamara to put them over the top in the division.
Kamaro has been one of Drew Brees’ biggest threats on offense this season.
The two will likely split carries on a regular basis, which will be key to the Saints’ success.
New York has a strong offensive line with Jonathan Vilma, Branden Albert and Justin Houston, and Kamaros ability to be the guy behind the line of scrimmage will be invaluable.
Kamarole’s ability to stretch the field will be another huge factor, as will Kamara’s ability as a blocker.
New England is another team that could contend for a Super Bowl title this season, but this year the Patriots’ offense will need a lot more help.
The Patriots also have a good defensive line, which gives them a chance at playing at a high level in the postseason.
The front office will need more help from the secondary to keep the defense competitive.
The secondary could be the biggest weakness of the New Orleans defense.
The defense was one of New Orleans’ biggest strengths last season, with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, safety Kenny Vaccaro, safety Donte Whitner and safety Dashon Goldson all playing major roles.
Rhodes is a former first-round pick who will be playing in his first season with New Orleans, and Vaccaro and Whitner are two of the best safeties in the league.
Vaccaro had a career year in 2016 with the Saints, but the team is not giving him a lot of playing time this season with Kamaro out for the season with his injury.
The linebackers have to replace veterans Cameron Jordan and T.J. Ward, who will not be back for the second half of the year.
The defensive line will have some questions to answer in 2017.
The offseason addition of cornerback Brandon Browner was an important step forward for the team last season and Browner has been solid this season despite playing on injured reserve.
But the Saints lost the services of several key pieces in free agency, including cornerback Delvin Breaux and cornerback Delano Hill.
The roster needs to improve to get back to its former glory.
The defensive line has the opportunity to make some big improvements in 2017, but its lack of depth and depth at linebacker will hurt it this year.
With the team relying on the defense to be its backbone, New Orleans may not have a long run to the postseason if it doesn’t take advantage of some good