From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
No NFL team will have a bigger chip on its shoulder when the regular season opens this week than the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints were robbed of a Super Bowl appearance last season when a blatant pass interference penalty wasn’t called on the Rams, who eventually won the NFC title game in overtime.
The Saints have had eight months to stew over that non-call, and no doubt, will be extremely focused about their Super Bowl drive in 2019.
Interestingly, the Saints play at the Rams on Sept. 15 in a highly anticipated meeting.
New Orleans’ offense still goes through 40-year-old QB Drew Brees, a 12-time Pro Bowler in 18 seasons whose production dipped late in the 2018 regular season.
However, the future Hall of Famer still completed 74.4 percent of his passes for 3,992 yards and 32 TDs, with only five interceptions.
Brees will be helped this season with the free-agent signing of TE Jared Cook, who previously played for the Packers and Raiders.
Running back Alvin Kamara produced 1,592 yards from scrimmage between rushing and receiving for 18 TDs.
The NFL kickoff starts Thursday, when the Bears play host to the Packers in the NFL’s oldest rivalry, and the rest of Week 1 follows Sunday and Monday. On Sunday, the Giants open at the Cowboys for the fourth straight season, while the Bills play at the Jets.
Here’s my divisional forecast (x-wild-card qualifier):
n AFC East — Patriots, Bills, Jets, Dolphins.
n AFC North — Steelers, x-Browns, Ravens, Bengals.
n AFC South — Texans, Titans, Jaguars, Colts.
n AFC West — Chiefs, x-Chargers, Raiders, Broncos.
n NFC East — Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins.
n NFC North — Vikings, x-Bears, Packers, Lions.
n NFC South — Saints, x-Falcons, Panthers, Bucs.
n NFC West — Rams, 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals.
n AFC Championship — Chiefs over Patriots.
n NFC Championship — Saints over Vikings.
n Super Bowl LIV at Miami — Saints over Chiefs.
n Regular season Offensive MVP — Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs.
n Regular season Defensive MVP — Khalil Mack, Bears.
n Rookie of the Year — Devin Singletary, Bills.
n Coach of the Year — Freddie Kitchens, Browns.
n Richie Rich’s Top 10 rankings in Major League Baseball: 1. Yankees; 2. Astros; 3. Dodgers; 4. Braves; 5. Twins; 6. Indians; 7. Nationals; 8. Rays; 9. A’s; 10. Cardinals.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org