The Saints are relatively low on this list because they have managed all the obstacles in their way throughout 2020 with aplomb. They win games in a lot of different ways. Their defense is improving, and their receivers are finally healthy — just in time for their starting quarterback to be injured.
Drew Brees broke multiple ribs Sunday, which is expected to knock him out of action, possibly for a few weeks. Brees is also struggling with a shoulder injury, and NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport alluded to other possible maladies in a situation that is reminiscent of Peyton Manning’s final season.
Like Manning in 2015, Brees has a team around him that could deliver a long-desired second Super Bowl. It remains to be seen whether the combination of backup QBs Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill can keep the Saints afloat like Teddy Bridgewater did for the Saints in 2019 — or Brock Osweiler did for the Broncos in Manning’s absence in 2015 — but it will give Saints fans a preview for life without Brees, which increasingly feels like it will start in 2021.
This is an outstanding, if tricky, opportunity for Winston. The Saints’ offense couldn’t be much different than the one he knew in Tampa. New Orleans currently leads the NFC South, but in-division threats loom, with two games upcoming against a hot Falcons team that gives the Saints trouble even in the best of times. (Remember Thanksgiving last year?) Winston could play well enough to earn himself a job next season, even as the Saints’ starter. Or he could start a career path closer to that of Sam Bradford, another former No. 1 overall pick for hire stuck somewhere between starter and backup.