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2015 NFL Power Rankings #21: New Orleans Saints

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The good times are coming to an end in the Big Easy.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Disclaimer: I am not a professional or a psychic. Your guess is as good as mine, unless it's something really crazy.

2014 Record: 7-9

Cuts: Broderick Bunkley, Pierre Thomas, Shayne Graham, Junior Galette, Curtis Lofton

Losses: Patrick Robinson, Travaris Cadet

Signings: Josh Morgan, Brandon Browner, Kevin Williams, Mike McGlynn, C.J. Spiller, Anthony Spencer, Kyle Wilson

Draft Class: Andrus Peat, Stephone Anthony, Hau'oli Kikaha, Garrett Grayson, P.J. Williams, Davis Hull, Tyeler Davison, Damian Swann, Marcus Murphy

Trades: Jimmy Graham and a fourth round pick to the Seahawks for Max Unger and a first round pick, Kenny Stills to the Dolphins for Dannell Ellerbe and a third round pick, Ben Grubbs to the Chiefs for a fifth round pick

Questions:

Did the Saints defense regress in 2014, or was that the real Saints defense?

Who will Drew Brees throw to?

Can the Saints generate an effective run game?

Defense:

The Saints defense was awful in 2014 and they tried to solve that problem by signing veteran players Kevin Williams and Anthony Spencer to cheap contracts, trading for Dannell Ellerbe, and by drafting Stephone Anthony, Hau'oli Kikaha, Davis Tull, and Tyeler Davison. The Saints have quality defensive players in Cameron Jordan and Akiem Hicks, but they need some of their other young players on the defensive front to step up and make an impact on a defense that was 31st in the league last year. they also signed Brandon Browner to play along side Keenan Lewis and Kyle Wilson to play in the slot. In addition, the Saints need Kenny Vaccaro to be the safety that he was in 2013 and Jairus Byrd to be healthy and play better than he did at the start of the season.

Offense:

For the first time in a long time, there's questions surrounding the Saints offense. The Saints traded away Jimmy Graham, who has spent the last three years as Drew Brees' security blanket and the Saints' main offensive weapon. They've also traded away Kenny Stills. The Saints still have Brandin Cooks, but behind him is an aging Marques Colston and a group of young, unproven receiving options. The Saints made an effort to improve their offensive line as they traded for Pro Bowl Center Max Unger and drafted Andrus Peat in the first round to replace Ben Grubbs, who showed some signs of aging before he was traded away this off-season. They appear to be moving towards a run-first offense, as they signed Mark Ingram to a long-term deal and signed C.J. Spiller away from the Bills to replace Pierre Thomas. A run first offense is probably the right offense to run, seeing as Drew Brees isn't getting any younger.

Best Case Scenario:

Drew Brees can make his cast of weapons work and a revitalized Saints defense gets the team to the playoffs.

Worst Case Scenario:

Age starts taking it's toll and Brees struggles without Jimmy, while a stagnant defense keeps the Saints out of the playoffs. The Saints start cleaning house.

Predictions:

Mark Ingram and Brandin Cooks have 1,000 yard seasons for the first time.

Drew Brees fails to throw 30 touchdowns and get a Pro Bowl vote for the first time since 2007.

Marques Colston has the worst season of his career since 2008 and gets released.

Wins: Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans

Losses: Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals

Predicted Record: 7-9

#22: New York Jets

#23: St. Louis Rams

#24: Oakland Raiders

#25: Jacksonville Jaguars

#26: Chicago Bears

#27: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

#28: Cleveland Browns

#29: Houston Texans

#30: San Francisco 49ers

#31: Tennessee Titans

#32: Washington Redskins