Saints by the Numbers: Keys heading into season opener
The Saints open the 51st season in franchise history Monday night in Minnesota. In advance of the opener, let’s dig deeper into the numbers and what history dictates the Saints need to do Monday night, early in the season and throughout 2017 to return to the NFL Playoffs for the first time in four seasons.
Run to Win?
Ed Daniels suggested as much in his column for CCS this week. The Saints’ two best teams in the Payton era – 2009 and 2011 – have one offensive statistic that jumps off the page: A running game ranked in the top 10 of the NFL. The additions of future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson and rookie Alvin Kamara, along with returning 1,000-yard rusher Mark Ingram, would seemingly give New Orleans a leg up in returning to the top 10 of the league in rushing yards. A look at some key offensive rankings by season since 2006:
|Season||Total Yards||Rushing Yards||Scoring|
Improved Defense Could Be Key
If the improvement shown in the preseason by the Saints defense carries over to the regular season, that could be a key factor in a successful 2017 campaign. In the Payton era, the five teams to reach the playoffs allowed less than 22 points per game, while the six teams that failed to reach the playoffs gave up at least 24 points per game.
|Points Allowed||Points Per Game|
Week 1 Predicts the Season?
In nine of the 11 seasons under Payton, Week 1 has been an indicator of the season to come. With just two exceptions (2008 and 2011), a Week 1 win has jump-started a run to the playoffs and a Week 1 loss has started a non-playoff campaign.
|Season||Week 1||Opponent||Score||Made Playoffs?|
Another predictor in Week 1 has been the Saints’ defense. New Orleans is 5-0 in Week 1 under Payton when holding the opponent to less than 30 points, and 0-6 when allowing 30 or more points.
1st 4 Weeks a Better Predictor?
If Week 1 is a good dictator of how the Saints will perform over the course of the season, the first quarter of the season is a great one. In the 11 seasons since Payton took over in New Orleans, the Saints have been 3-1 or 4-0 five times, which produced winning/playoff seasons; 2-2 once, in Payton’s only 8-8 season in 2008; and 1-3 or 0-4 five times, all losing seasons.
|1st 4 Games||Final Record|
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…