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CBS Sports doesn’t buy the Saints as a new playoff team in 2024

Not many people are buying what the New Orleans Saints are selling — that a team quarterbacked by Derek Carr and coached by Dennis Allen can reach the postseason. Between their own shortcomings and the upgrades other teams in the NFC South have made this offseason, New Orleans is predicted to be watching the playoffs from home like everyone else.

It’s the Atlanta Falcons who will be hosting a playoff game next January, argues Cody Benjamin for CBS Sports. Here’s why Benjamin argues the Falcons, not the Saints, are going to the postseason in 2024:

The Falcons had all the ingredients for a wild-card run in 2023, except a legitimate signal-caller. Now Kirk Cousins is under center, and while his career suggests more of a steady hand than a special talent, he’s got enough ascending skill talent and underrated defensive support to warrant an instant playoff berth in the wide-open NFC South.

It’s early, but Cousins might be the most overrated player to change teams this offseason. The quarterback turns 36 this summer and is coming off of Achilles surgery after an unsuccessful six-year run with the Minnesota Vikings in which he won as many home playoff games as he did in six years with Washington: zero. The only postseason success Cousins found in Minnesota came in 2019, when the Saints (who else?) choked in front of their own home crowd.

Cousins and Carr have been unfavorably compared to each other for years, and their numbers are very similar. So are their resumes. You could argue that Cousins is entering a better situation than Carr found in New Orleans last season, but they’re both teaming up with defensive-minded head coaches who got ran out of one NFL city once already, and who both have sub-.400 career winning percentages (Dennis Allen is at .343, Raheem Morris is at .356). They aren’t that different.

Maybe Cousins is a better quarterback than his production suggests, but he isn’t much better than Carr. The Falcons haven’t won anything with the roster he’s inheriting. At least the Saints have players who have won games in January before, even if it’s been a while. We’ll have to wait and see whether all this confidence Cousins is receiving was warranted when the season kicks off in September.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire