The New Orleans Saints are on the path to redemption in the 2019 season after seeing their Super Bowl dreams crushed last year by one of the most controversial calls in NFL history. Every Saints fan will remember where they were when Tommylee Lewis was knocked flying off his route by Nickell Robey-Coleman in one of the most egregious pass interference decisions to grace the game.
Everyone who saw the incident believed that the Saints should have had the ball on the one-yard line to move in for a game-killing touchdown or field goal with little to no time left on the clock. However, the officials sided with the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game, which allowed Sean McVay’s men to advance to the Super Bowl, although they were beaten by the New England Patriots.
The decision has changed the NFL and the way pass interference is called across the league – with the option of now challenging calls on the field. It will never take the bitter taste out of the mouths of the Saints, but Sean Payton and his team have not bleated about their misfortune; instead, they’re attempting to forge a path back towards the Super Bowl where they are backed in the NFL betting odds at +550 to triumph at Hard Rock Stadium – the site of their victory in the 2009 season.
New Orleans have had to battle adversity over the course of the campaign. Drew Brees suffered a hand injury in the second game of the season. In his absence Teddy Bridgewater won all five of his starts to keep the Saints on top of the NFC South, defeating quality opponents in the process. Since Brees’ return, the team have been a well-oiled machine outside of a shock defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons at the Superdome.
Brees has been more restrained in his role than in previous seasons as the Saints have been able to win regularly without the heroics of their quarterback. The 40-year-old has been tasked with being efficient, using the skills of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara to move the ball down the field. It has been a case of outscoring their opponents rather than blowing them away like the Saints of old.
The defense has been solid throughout the season and has made big plays led by the outstanding Cameron Jordan – who has notched 13.5 sacks at the time of writing. Marcus Davenport has been potent on the other edge of the line, while Trey Hendrickson, Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata have ensured that there has been solid rotation to throw at opposing quarterbacks.
New Orleans’ secondary has been a strength of the team. Marcus Williams has overcome his huge mistake in the post-season two years ago to become a well-rounded player. Marshon Lattimore has battled injuries this term, but remains one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Eli Apple, PJ Williams and Von Bell have developed into an impressive part of the unit, helping to lock down some of the most dangerous offenses in the NFC.
Unlike the past, the Saints are a balanced team, capable of winning in many ways. They’ve been cruelly denied in the past two years by the Minnesota Miracle and the no-call on Lewis. Payton and his team have continued to battle adversity in the 2019 season, but if they continue to play as they are it could be the year that they lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy again.