Team Capsules: New Orleans Saints

August 17, 2023

A look at every NFL franchise heading into the 2023 season

© Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

What’s a quarterback worth?

Well, as Bobby Boucher, Archie Manning and every Cajun with a Kamara jersey might suggest, we’re fixin’ to find out.

The New Orleans Saints are far from the best team in the NFL this season, but they make a strong case for being the most intriguing.

After an ugly divorce from the Raiders, Derek Carr will be the Saints’ newest signal caller. For the first time since the dominant days of Sean Payton and Drew Brees, there’s true optimism in the Big Easy. Throughout his career, Carr has been the subject of great debate. Is he an uber-talented underachiever, or has he been stunted by the general disfunction of the Raiders, all while playing in one of football’s most consistently great divisions?

Like a breakfast of beignets at Café Du Monde or an evening of étouffée at Galatoire’s, there’s plenty to digest when it comes to the Saints.

What to like about the Saints…

  • Derek Carr (and if you don’t like him, start dumping everything you own into the Saints 9.5 under). But you should like Carr, who brings plenty of optimism along with his big gun(s) to New Orleans. In his last two seasons under the guidance of Jon Gruden, Carr posted QBRs of 100.8 and 101.4. In the two years he spent with Josh McDaniels, his QBR was 94.0 and 86.3. McDaniels might know Xs and Os, and he sure was good when sending his plays into Tom Brady, but it would appear he’s not exactly a quarterback’s best friend. Look for a resurgence from Carr, who could truly flourish with the Saints.
  • Help is on the way for Alvin Kamara, who will sit out the first three games while suspended. But that might not be a bad thing anyway. Kamara was the Saints go-to weapon last year, and while he’s always good, the rest, paired with the addition of former Lions running back Jamaal Williams and Carr, should make for a refreshed and explosive backfield.  
  • Gone are the days when the Falcons and Saints, fueled by dynamic offenses, battled for NFC South supremacy. Gone, too, is Tom Brady. It all adds up to the fact that the South is one of the most winnable divisions in the entire NFL. If a team can emerge – and the Saints under Carr feel like the most likely candidate – the division is theirs for the taking.

What not to like about the Saints…

  • The excitement surrounding Carr comes with a slight asterisk, as the Saints receiving corps could very well be the team’s biggest question mark. It’s not as if it’s “bad” on paper – it’s just that few names jump off the page and the ones that do are aging, average or injured. Once a superstar, Michael Thomas is now 30 and is coming off a season where he played in only 10 games. Chris Olave had an excellent rookie campaign last year – 72 catches for 1,042 yards – and could become Carr’s favorite target. Second-year wideout Rashid Shaheed’s stat line from 2022 doesn’t impress, but he’s widely regarded as a sleeper who could shine in a starting role.
  • It’s all still pretty new. An influx of new talent and hope can, at times, also come with some growing pains. Whether that plays out this season in New Orleans is yet to be determined, and on paper the Saints definitely look like an improved team, but there’s always an adjustment period. How the Saints play in their first three games – versus Tennessee, at Carolina and at Green Bay – should reveal just how quickly they can gel.   
  • Dennis Allen is unproven as a head coach. Clearly, Allen has caught the eye of several NFL teams and has earned the trust of Saints ownership, largely as their defensive coordinator from 2015 to 2021. But as the man in charge, he’s been mediocre at best. In Oakland in 2012 and 2013, he guided the Raiders to back-to-back 4-12 seasons. After starting 0-4 in 2014, he was let go. Last year with a Saints team in transition, he won seven games – not terrible, but not convincing yet either. Getting to coach with Carr under center should reveal whether Allen is a good head coach or just a great coordinator. 

Steve Quinne’s Pick: Saints to win NFC South (+125)

Assuming you’re of the belief that the Saints will be much improved with a legitimate quarterback on the roster, the decision really becomes which wager to make. It seems as though plenty of money is coming in on the Saints to make the playoffs, which is why the price is steep at -180. That’s not too appealing. With the win total set at 9.5, the over feels right, and if that’s the case, there’s a good chance the Saints will be making the playoffs, and likely winning the division too. Taking the over pays at +115, while winning the NFC south is a better investment at +125. If you’re in on the 2023 Saints, you might as well be all in.