Parallels: The 2017 Raiders and 2009 Saints takes a look at an interesting parallel between two teams (Raiders and Saints) as one of them finds itself going down the other’s path.

The NFL Pre-Season officially kicked off this past week; the first taste of real football to trigger the fans around the world into a frenzy. For the next three weeks, the media coverage will tap into their crystal ball of power rankings, win-loss predictions, and forecasting individual performance award nominees. It is nearly impossible for Raider Nation to resist after years of pre-season prediction coverage delegated to failures.

Now should we “sip the kool-aid” of Super Bowl contender status? Before you settle on that matter, take a look at a parallel I have noticed between this year’s Oakland Raiders and the 2009 New Orleans Saints who went on to hoist the Lombardi trophy.

Cities Define Heroes

New Orleans – Drew Brees

In 2006 the New Orleans Saints gave the city fan base one of its most memorable sports performances ever. In the wake of destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, the Saints became a rallying point for the city after a memorable performance at the Superdome. They throttled the visiting Atlanta Falcons 23-3 in a deafening home crowd environment that stood for much more than just football. It sparked a courageous movement in which the rebuilding of the city and its football team would become linked.

Freshly signed quarterback Drew Brees came to the forefront of the community involvement. Brees was undergoing some “rebuilding” of his own from a devastating shoulder injury that ultimately ended his career in San Diego. Brees was the perfect player with the same determination of the city; New Orleans was a recovering disaster zone, and the Saints were coming off an awful 3-13 season in 2005. Against all odds Brees promised to fight on the field for the city and to deliver a Super Bowl and in 2009 that finally came to fruition. The reputation of Drew Brees in New Orleans is iconic, both on and off the field.

The Town: Oakland – Marshawn Lynch

The 2016 NFL off-season finalized the official relocation fate of the Raiders to Las Vegas. After Mark Davis and the NFL had been unable to deliver a new stadium to the Bay Area there was a furious uproar from the local fan base as they hit the airwaves; merchandise was set on fire, celebrities chimed-in and season ticket holders began holding out in protest.

Raider Nation as a whole was about to embark on a uniquely new era as Las Vegas is a far cry from a previously held relocation stint in Los Angeles that, at least, shared the same statehood and established fan base. The city of Oakland was losing its beloved identity with the Silver and Black, and with just 2-3 seasons left on the lease, it needed someone special to represent it.

The Raiders relocation caught the eyes and heart of a retired NFL Oakland native, Marshawn Lynch. In a strange parallel through opposition; Drew Brees came to start a new era in New Orleans while Lynch is coming to end one. Amidst a bickering fan base, high-caliber running back Lynch aka “BEAST MODE” brings his punishing physical talent and a personality that has captured the heart of his native home.

The signing has hopes of restoring a new, albeit temporary, connection to Oakland fans in “The Town” until time expires. Much like Brees when it comes to the community, Lynch has already endeared himself with the Bay Area without even playing a down of football yet. It would only be fitting for Lynch to host a Super Bowl parade through Oakland as a historical tenure comes to a close.

Don’t believe the hype? Marshawn Lynch has the #1 selling jersey in the NFL since signing with The Oakland Raiders

2009 New Orleans Saints

The 2009 Saints’ greatest strength was their high scoring offense, they led the league with 31.9 ppg while scoring 45 points or more a whopping five times during the season. They led the league in nearly every major offensive statistical category. Much of that production was done in shotgun sets for Brees to work with his lethal 70% completion percentage he posted in 2009. They also ran the ball efficiently averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

2017 Oakland Raiders

The 2017 Raiders offense will look to mirror the production of the 2009 Saints, statistically speaking. Derek Carr favors the shotgun much like Brees and with his versatile weaponry around him, watch out. The Raiders showed elite scoring ability in 2016 finishing 7th in PPG. They will be serious contenders to make the jump for the highest scoring offense in the NFL in 2017.

Playmaking Defense

2009 New Orleans Saints

As a unit, the Saints 2009 defense was in the bottom third of the league for both points and yards allowed. With the high-powered offense, they favored the “bend don’t break approach” rather, instead, identifying as a ball hawking unit, taking calculated risks to force turnovers. The Saints defense forced 15 fumbles, 26 interceptions while scoring five defensive touchdowns and registering 35 sacks.

2017 Oakland Raiders

In 2016 the Raiders defense struggled mightily at times and were nearly identical to the league rankings of the 2009 Saints in both points allowed and yards. The Raiders defense is still trying to find itself; outside of DOPY Khalil Mack, there’s a speedy youth movement brewing on defense.

The 2017 Raiders offense will be hard to keep up with on the scoreboard, and I believe the defense will benefit from the pressure on opposing teams to pass and keep up, much like the 2009 Saints. Such pressure will allow the young core to ramp up its pass rush and let the back-end attack the ball with their speed as opposing offenses become one-dimensional. They will do their best work forcing turnovers, and the team will see their sack numbers rise resulting in Carr and the high-powered offense getting extra possessions to pull away from teams.

Ending a Franchise Drought

2009 New Orleans Saints

The Saints have long been one the NFL’s worst franchises, posting only 10 winning seasons since 1967. Their 13-3 regular season record in 2009 led them to their lone Super Bowl appearance and victory. This marked a huge accomplishment that has changed their losing culture perception in the modern NFL.

2017 Oakland Raiders

The Raiders are one of the more fruitful and historic NFL franchises of all time. Their success may seem dated due to a historically bad run from 2002-2015; posting 13 consecutive seasons without a winning record. For the Raiders a Super Bowl drought dating back to 1984 is unacceptable, “The Team of the Decades” has lost its weight around the league.

The league reputation is still that of a losing culture, full of many embarrassing performances in recent memory. Although the 2016 season led to a 12-4 record, they still have to take the next step and win in the playoffs. The 2017 Raiders look to re-insert themselves atop the Super Bowl Champions record books and hoist up a 4th Lombardi trophy to awaken the league to a scary fact; the Raiders are back.

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