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The Saints are the NFL’s top seed and their only realistic path to a Super Bowl berth.
They play at home on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, who beat them in Week 14 and were swept by the Minnesota Vikings in Week 15.
New Orleans has won six straight and has a 1-1 record in those games.
If the Saints are to clinch a playoff spot, they’ll need to win out against a Packers team that lost to the Packers in Week 1.
Here are five reasons the Saints will be the NFL title game champs.1.
They are the best defense in football.
In 2017, the Saints defense was the league’s best.
They finished second in yards allowed per game, allowed the fewest passing yards per game and allowed the most yards per pass attempt (9.4).
They also ranked in the top five in interceptions (21), sacks (13) and pass deflections (16).
They allowed just 17.4 points per game in the second half of the season, the fourth-lowest mark in the league.
They also surrendered the second-fewest rushing yards per attempt (3.2), the third-fewth fewest points per attempt and the second fewest yards per rush (9 yards).
This year, they’re expected to be even better.
New Orleans has a lot of young talent on defense.
The team signed former New York Jets linebacker Dont’a Hightower and has the league best talent in free agency.
The Saints also signed veteran defensive tackle Cameron Jordan, who is coming off a strong year and will be a free agent after the season.
But the biggest signing of the offseason was safety Kenny Vaccaro.
Vaccaro, 26, is coming into his third season in the NFL and had a standout season last year with the Jets.
He had nine interceptions and a league-high seven forced fumbles.
He’ll be counted on to be the primary tackler on defense, which is where the Saints excel.2.
The NFC South is a dangerous division.
The NFC South, with three NFC East teams and four NFC West teams, is the league equivalent of the Big East.
New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo won the division last year and is hoping to replicate that success this season.
The New York Rangers, who have been in the East for nearly 40 years, are one of the NFL teams that could be in the mix for a title this season, too.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is hoping that the team can get back to the playoffs.
New Mexico State has a chance to do just that, as well.
The Falcons will be back in the hunt, though.
Atlanta lost to Green Bay in Week 16, but the Falcons have a chance at a top-four seed if they win out in the division.
The Patriots are a wildcard team.
The Falcons also have a shot at the No. 1 seed if New Orleans falls out of the playoff picture.
The Patriots, Saints and Falcons have three of the four best defenses in the AFC, which makes the NFC South tougher than it might be in some other leagues.3.
New coach Bill O’Brien could help New Orleans.
Bill O’Neill is coming from a coaching background that started with his father, Tom, a head coach at the University of Miami.
He spent time with Bill Belichick, who was head coach of the Patriots from 1989-1992.
He is a former offensive coordinator at LSU, and he also spent two years at USC.
O’Reilly has been a coach at Miami since 1999, where he won a national championship in 2000 and 2007.
He coached the Hurricanes to a national title in 2008 and a berth in the 2010 Super Bowl.
He’s also a college football Hall of Famer and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
O’Reilly had a solid rookie season as Miami’s head coach, leading the Hurricanes (5-6) to a 7-6 record and the conference title.
Miami won a bowl game in 2010 and 2011.
The Hurricanes are coming off an 8-4 season in 2016 and the loss of a key player.
Miami is expected to play better this year under O’Connell, but that’s not a guarantee.4.
New Saints quarterback Drew Brees has a great chance to be an MVP candidate.
A year ago, Brees was viewed as a potential first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Brees was selected fifth overall, and while he has had some struggles this season in terms of accuracy and accuracy-adjusted yards per target (percent of attempts that are accurate), he has a strong arm and an excellent arm strength.
Brees has thrown for 3,823 yards, 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, ranking him second in the NBA.
Brees is a top 10 passer in the entire NFL.
His success will likely be on display this week in St. Louis.