PFF suggests Saints may have the best roster among playoff contenders

John Sigler
·2 min read

The New Orleans Saints enter the NFL playoffs with one of the better records among remaining teams at 12-4, but how do they stack up on a position-by-position basis? Pro Football Focus analyst Ian Hartitz surveyed the group of contenders and ended up ranking New Orleans on top, in large part due to their steady play in the trenches on each side of the ball.

But the Saints have also gotten solid production out of a constantly-shifting group of pass catchers, which Hartitz took time to talk up:

“This receiver room has been banged up all season long, but help should hopefully be on the way with Michael Thomas (ankle, IR) tentatively expected to suit up Sunday against the Bears. Still, this team’s tight end room and complementary options are hardly liabilities; this offense was a top-15 unit in PFF receiving grade, yards after the catch per reception, yards per route run and drop rate.”

That certainly suggests it’s been more than a one-man show, despite Alvin Kamara’s excellence. And the Saints will need all hands on deck not just to beat the Chicago Bears this week (who held New Orleans to just 26 points scored, their second-lowest total on the year in games not quarterbacked by Taysom Hill), but to advance into the playoffs.

The field is littered with high-powered passing offenses, which is an area the Saints could be vulnerable. While Hartitz praised the Saints for their stout run defense, their lapses in coverage could be a fatal flaw. He continued:

“The larger issue for this defense is what happens when their front-seven isn’t able to impact the play. Overall, each of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (No. 22 in yards allowed per coverage snap), Janoris Jenkins (No. 44) and Marshon Lattimore (No. 55) underwhelmed among 78 qualified corners in their ability to consistently hold up downfield.”

So how will this projection work out? Anything can happen in the postseason, which Saints fans are well aware of. But it would be great to see this looking nice in hindsight if New Orleans can go win another Super Bowl.