Inside the Dome: Saints Ceiling and Floor in 2023

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 01: Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Jack Driscoll (63) attempts to block New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) during the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles on January 1, 2023 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Every Thursday right here you can read Inside the Dome, where we’ll get into a different topic on the Saints/the NFL as a whole, break down the Black and Gold, and talk about where things stand in the shield. In today’s edition, let’s break down a definitive ceiling and floor for how the Saints could fare in 2023 if things go well, and if things go poorly:

We addressed it right off the bat last week. The biggest thing working to the Saints advantage is the fact that they are playing in the weakest division in the entire league. Not only this, but according to SharpFootballAnalysis, as well as many other sources, New Orleans actually has the easiest schedule overall in the entire league.

Not that their schedule was particularly difficult last season (9th easiest), but the Saints were plagued by bad quarterback play all year, and bringing in Derek Carr at the minimum gives them a steadying presence at the position.

So let’s start out from an optimistic perspective and assume Derek Carr can return to his pre-2022 form after a very rough season in year one for Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas. Carr has a dangerous weapon in Chris Olave who is coming off a fantastic rookie year. For Michael Thomas, anything the Saints get out of him at this point is a bonus, but he did show flashes of the Thomas of old in the three games he played last season.

If Thomas can somehow stay healthy and play at least 10 games this year, it’s a solid group of receivers for Carr along with Tre’Quan Smith and rookie AT Perry.

The Saints will also once again be near the top of the league in defense with a unit led by Cameron Jordan, Demario Davis, Tyrann Mathieu, and Marcus Maye. They really just need Carr and the offense to at least be half decent, and if it can be more than that, this team is capable of winning at least 10 games. Vegas has the over/under set at 9.5 wins, and I am inclined to lean towards the over with a ceiling of 11 wins.

Now, let’s say everything goes wrong. Let’s say 2022 was a true reflection of what Derek Carr is at this point, Michael Thomas can’t stay healthy again, the Panthers and Falcons both take steps forward, and Tampa Bay is better than expected.

For one, this is a scenario where Dennis Allen does not make it to year three. The Saints must win this division in 2023. They are the odds on favorite for a reason. But if the offense is a mess once again and the division is better than expected, a disaster scenario floor for the Saints is probably right around six or seven wins.

New Orleans needs to get off to a good start on September 10th with a very beatable Titans team coming to town in week one before an epic Monday night showdown in Carolina week two for Bryce Young’s home debut.

There is excitement around this Saints team, and for good reason. Will they live up to it, or will it be yet another tough year in New Orleans? Time will tell.