Brian Allee-Walsh

Don't count the Saints out yet

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandon Coleman (16) dives in for a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals strong safety Deone Bucannon defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandon Coleman (16) dives in for a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals strong safety Deone Bucannon defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) AP

NEW ORLEANS -- Earlier this spring, I wrote New Orleans Saints owners Tom and Gayle Benson probably had a better chance of winning the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby than winning Super Bowl LI.

Well, neither of the two 3-year-old colts racing out of GMB Stables finished in the money. Mo Tom went off at 23-to-1 from the fourth post position and finished eighth and Tom's Ready went off at 46-to-1 from the 12th post position and finished 12th.

The odds of the Saints winning this year's Super Bowl in Houston are even more staggering, according to Bovada Sportsbook.

As of May 4, after the NFL draft and the initial thrust of free agency, the Saints are listed at 66-to-1 to win a second Lombardi Trophy this coming season. That puts them as the No. 3 odds-on-choice from the NFC South to win the Big Enchilada, behind three-time defending division champion Carolina (11-to-1) and Atlanta (50-to-1) and slightly ahead of Tampa Bay (75-to-1).

Other Las Vegas sportsbooks put the Saints over/under win total at 7.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm not espousing gambling. I merely point to those bookmakers who appear to take a dim view of the 2016 Saints with Sean Payton as their coach and quarterback Drew Brees running a still potent offensive attack.

I still think Benson's colts had a better chance of winning the annual Run for the Roses than his football team has of winning the Super Bowl. That said, I'll take the over on seven wins (at least eight, maybe nine) and if given an opportunity I would take a $100 flyer on the Saints' Super Bowl odds at 66-to-1.

Here's how I see it:

-- The defense under coordinator Dennis Allen can't be any worse than it has been the past two seasons when it has been historically bad. On paper, Payton and GM Mickey Loomis appear to have upgraded the unit, most recently with their No. 1 draft pick, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins out of Louisville, the site of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

The irony isn't lost on me.

-- And Brees is still

Drew Brees, though he's getting up in age. He seems to take a licking but keeps on ticking even now at age 37. Too, I suspect he'll be a happy camper by the time training camp opens up in late July with a new multi-year contract and hefty signing bonus in hand.

The fear I have is the Saints may be better personnel wise and they may be improved on defense but will that be enough to handle a schedule deemed among the fifth most difficult in the NFL?

Las Vegas is saying don't bet on it.

I'm saying don't bet against it.

Brian Allee-Walsh, a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.

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