We are officially midway through the New Orleans Saints 2018 season! The Saints are sitting at an NFC-second-best 7-1 record, and are on an NFL-best seven game winning streak. It’s been a very hot season for several players across the board, an encouraging sign as we head into the second half of the season.

Let’s review over the games and starters briefly.

Season Summary

1- Home- Tampa Bay Buccaneers- L 40-48
2- Home- Cleveland Browns- W 21-18
3- Away- Atlanta Falcons- W (OT) 43-37
4- Away- New York Giants- W 33-18
5- Home- Washington Redskins- W 43-19
6- Bye
7- Away- Baltimore Ravens- W 24-23
8- Away- Minnesota Vikings- W 30-20
9- Home- Los Angeles Rams- W 45-35

The Buccaneers loss in week one was hard to swallow, as the secondary was repeatedly torched. However, the Saints have bounced back, winning seven straight games over quality opponents. The Redskins lead their division right now, the Vikings and Rams both being considered higher tier opponents. The Rams actually were handed their first loss by this team.

So far this season, Saints opponents have amassed a 32-34-2 (.485) total combined record. The New York Giants (1-7) and the Cleveland Browns (2-6-1) are the worst teams so far that the Saints have played. If you subtract the games that the teams have played against the Saints, the opposition is 31-27-2 (.534).

The schedule does get more brutal. The remaining opposition is 35-26-1 (.686) this season. Opponents upcoming are the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1), the Carolina Panthers (6-2) twice, the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) and the Cincinnati Bengals (5-3).

Starters

NEW ORLEANS, LA – NOVEMBER 4: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints drops back to pass against the Los Angeles Rams at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on November 4, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

POS Player Name (GM-ST) {*Denotes Rookie}

Offense
QB Drew Brees (8-8)

RB Alvin Kamara (8-7)
WR Michael Thomas (8-8)
WR Tre’Quan Smith* (8-4)
TE Josh Hill (8-5)
TE Ben Watson (8-4)
LT Terron Armstead (8-8)
LG Andrus Peat (5-5)
C Max Unger (8-8)
RG Larry Warford (8-8)
RT Ryan Ramczyk (8-8)

Defense
DE Cameron Jordan (8-8)

DT Sheldon Rankins (8-8)
DT David Onyamata (8-4)
DE Alex Okafor (8-8)
LB A.J. Klein (8-7)
MLB Demario Davis (8-8)
CB Marshon Lattimore (8-8)
CB Ken Crawley (6-5)
NB P.J. Williams (7-3)
FS Marcus Williams (8-8)
SS Kurt Coleman (8-5)

Notable Substitutions
FB Zach Line (8-3)
WR Ted Ginn Jr (4-3) +IR
RG Josh LeRibeus (6-3) +IR
DE Marcus Davenport (7-0) +OUT
DT Tyeler Davison (6-4)
LB Alex Anzalone (8-3)
SS Vonn Bell (8-4)

This has been the team that is Super Bowl worthy. It’s been a resilient group. The very interesting observation one can make is how consistent the offensive line has been. Four of the five have started all eight games together, and it’s forming a remarkable chemistry. This team is exciting.

In the next part, we’re going to go into the injuries that this team has suffered from.

Injuries

ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 23: Patrick Robinson #21 of the New Orleans Saints is carter off the field after an injury during the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

Injured Reserve
WR Travin Dural*
RB Daniel Lasco 
WR Ted Ginn 
WR Tommylee Lewis
TE Michael Hoomanawanui
G Josh LeRibeus
DT Jay Bromley
CB Patrick Robinson
DB Ricky Jefferson
WR Cameron Meredith

Missing Time
DE Marcus Davenport*
CB Ken Crawley

The Saints have dealt with their fair share of injuries this season. Ted Ginn Jr was a starter before being hobbled with his knee injury. He will be eligible to return Week 15, and it’s unsure if he will be ready to go by then. Cornerback Patrick Robinson was expected to start on the opposite side of Marshon Lattimore, and he’s missed the entire season.

Marcus Davenport is expected to be out for a month, and we don’t know what Ken Crawley has been dealing with. Despite all of this, the Saints have been resilient, fighting off the injuries and making a big impact this season so far.

The Mid-Season Awards

Now that we have briefly recapped the season, it’s time to go into the team’s mid-season awards! Make sure you comment below who you would pick for each one of these awards.

Most Valuable Player of the Year: RB Alvin Kamara

NEW ORLEANS, LA – NOVEMBER 04: New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs and leaps over Los Angeles Rams free safety Lamarcus Joyner (20) on November 04, 2018 in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This was such a tough choice, with Drew Brees and Michael Thomas both also having huge campaigns. However, I had to give it to Alvin Kamara, the workhorse of this team. Kamara has been ridiculous so far this season, averaging 114.7 scrimmage yards per game and has 12 touchdowns to his credit. He’s been used all over the offense, is the second highest targeted receiver on the team, and leads the team in rushing.

Kamara has truly been the most valuable player on this team.

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Michael Thomas

NEW ORLEANS, LA – OCTOBER 08: Michael Thomas #13 of the New Orleans Saints is tackled by Quinton Dunbar #23 of the Washington Redskins during a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 8, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Again, Drew Brees is having a stellar season, the best of his Saints career, but it wouldn’t be as great without this man on his team. Michael Thomas has been targeted a total of 79 times this season, and has caught 70 of those passes. That’s simply astonishing, his catch rate is about to be the highest in NFL history. He averages 110 yards per game, and has 5 touchdowns to his credit as well.

Because of Thomas, Brees has his reliable receiver downfield that he trusts with the football. This is a huge deal, and because of that, Thomas is the offensive player of the season.

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Demario Davis

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 30: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Demario Davis #56 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the New York Giants on September 30, 2018 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Saints defeated the Giants 33-18. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

This was a tough competition as well, as the rookie Marcus Davenport has made a big impact, Marshon Lattimore plays on this team, and then there’s Cameron Jordan. After mulling it over, I thought that the new acquisition, Demario Davis, is the best player on this defense.

Davis leads the team with 62 tackles this season, almost averaging 8 per game. He has 2 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, and has hit the quarterback 4 times. Davis has been the heart and soul of the defense, using his veteran leadership to inspire the team and hold when it matters. He’s a great linebacker, and the best defensive player so far.

Most Improved Player of the Year: AP Taysom Hill

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – OCTOBER 28: Taysom Hill #7 of the New Orleans Saints is tackled with the ball by Eric Kendricks #54 of the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

When this award goes to a quarterback, it’s usually for playing better as a quarterback. For Hill, it’s because he went from standing on the sideline to playing snaps every game.

Hill has run the ball 23 times this season, returned kicks, caught the ball, and even thrown the ball. Sean Payton uses Hill all across the field, as a wide receiver, a tight end, a lead blocker, a zone read quarterback and the H-Back in punt formations. He’s been such an addition to this team, he is truly deserving of this award.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: WR Tre’Quan Smith

NEW ORLEANS, LA – OCTOBER 08: Tre’Quan Smith #10 of the New Orleans Saints scores a touchdown as Greg Stroman #37 of the Washington Redskins defends during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 8, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The Rookie wide receiver out of UCF (NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!! Just kidding…) has stepped up to the plate tremendously this season with the injuries to the receiving corps, and he’s been effective. He’s got 12 catches so far for 214 yards and 3 touchdowns, including the catch that made Drew Brees’ the NFL’s All-Time Passing Yardage leader.

He’s been the deep threat that New Orleans has needed, explosive on the perimeter and effective after the catch. Smith has been a godsend.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: DE Marcus Davenport

NEW ORLEANS, LA – SEPTEMBER 09: Marcus Davenport #92 of the New Orleans Saints reacts during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 9, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

A lot of people were wondering what the Saints were thinking trading up to select Marcus Davenport out of UTSA. Yeah, he had looked explosive in the Senior Bowl, but Davenport was considered a reach when the Saints took him 14th overall.

So far, he’s been worth the selection. Playing in the defensive line rotation, Davenport is tied for second on this team in sacks (4.0) and has done his share tackling, collecting 11 stops, 5 of them for loss, and has hit the quarterback 7 times. He should be a surefire AP NFL All-Rookie this season.

The Saints look like a legitimate contender

The Saints have been such a force on offense this year that they’ve been unstoppable. Then, the defense has stood up when it mattered as well. It’s been a great year for the Saints halfway through as we look back.

The fact that I was able to hand out a full line-up of awards and not be unreasonable with any of it speaks volumes to the talent amassed on this team. Drew Brees is a league MVP candidate, and he didn’t even win an award on his own team! That’s not to mention the new addition of Dez Bryant, which could do serious wonders to this team.

Watch out, NFL. This team is loaded and has a killer instinct.

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