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Random Observations: Scheduling Issues

June 6, 2012; Metairie, LA, USA; A general view during a New Orleans Saints minicamp session at the team's practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
June 6, 2012; Metairie, LA, USA; A general view during a New Orleans Saints minicamp session at the team's practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Despite the distraction of the bounty scandal, suspensions of players, coach suspensions, and Drew Brees' contract, the Saints have assembled one of the most talented rosters I've seen in a long while. Unfortunately, it may not be enough. Even with Brees at the helm, the Saints are facing one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Now is the time to review who they'll be facing.

Week Date Game Time
HOF Aug. 05 Cardinals
8:00 PM CDT
P1 Aug. 09 at Patriots
6:30 PM CDT
P2 Aug. 17 Jaguars
7:00 PM CDT
P3 Aug. 25 Texans
7:00 PM CDT
P4 Aug. 30 at Titans
6:00 PM CDT


Week Date Game Time
01 Sep. 09 Redskins
12:00 PM CDT
02 Sep. 16 at Panthers
12:00 PM CDT
03 Sep. 23 Chiefs
12:00 PM CDT
04 Sep. 30 at Packers
3:25 PM CDT
05 Oct. 07 Chargers
7:20 PM CDT
06 Bye
07 Oct. 21 at Buccaneers
12:00 PM CDT
08 Oct. 28 at Broncos
7:20 PM CDT
09 Nov. 05 Eagles
7:30 PM CST
10 Nov. 11 Falcons
12:00 PM CST
11 Nov. 18 at Raiders
3:05 PM CST
12 Nov. 25 49ers
3:25 PM CST
13 Nov. 29 at Falcons
7:20 PM CST
14 Dec. 09 at Giants
3:25 PM CST
15 Dec. 16 Buccaneers
12:00 PM CST
16 Dec. 23 at Cowboys
12:00 PM CST
17 Dec. 30 Panthers
12:00 PM CST

As you can see the Saints face the Packers, Giants, and 49ers who were all Super Bowl contenders last year. I don't see any of the three slipping into loser mode so they'll be tough games to win. Out of the three, they only face the 49ers at home.

Denver added Peyton Manning as their QB and the reports are confirming he can still throw a football. We know he's an effective field general, but all that may change after he gets hit a few times. Additionally, they signed Tracy Porter who knows our offensive tendencies from his time with the Saints.

The Eagles have been quietly working on their "team mentality" which is a huge contrast from last year's boasts of being a dream team. If they keep Michael Vick healthy and can buy him time in the pocket they may be a threat this year. They have a lot of talented players on the offensive and defensive side of the ball and all they really need is a leader to emerge.

Speaking of leaders needing to emerge, Tony Romo may come out with guns blazing this season. Not saying that he can singlehandedly save the Cowboys. I will say when he performs well, the rest of the team does too. They always play the Saints hard and they are working toward fixing their issues as a team. This game I would say is a toss up depending on who wants it more.

Of course, the Chiefs and the Redskins are tough defensive teams. Washington added RGIII, who I believe is an improvement over anything they had last year. The Chiefs, on the other hand, bumped Romeo Crennel into the head coaching spot and will have the benefit of a healthy roster. And don't forget they handed Green Bay their only loss in 2011.

The Raiders started 2011 looking like contenders but had injuries to some key players, namely Darren McFadden. Also, Carson Palmer has had a full offseason to establish himself as a leader in the huddle and to expand the playbook. While Palmer is getting up there in age at 32, his receivers and tight ends are young with fresh legs and speed.

While the Chargers signed Robert Meacham as a free agent, they lost Vincent Jackson. In addition, the Chargers will have an improved offensive line and a much improved pass rush. I have never viewed them as a threat but you never know in the NFL. Luckily, the Saints face them in the Dome, where they went undefeated last year.

Keep in mind that while the Saints have been recruiting and adding key pieces, so has every other team in the league. Every team is reporting some sort of improvement and none of them have endured as many offseason distractions as the Saints.

Another major variable to consider is the Vitt suspension. You can only prepare for a disaster to a certain degree. Vitt can help our guys prepare for the season but for the first six games he will not be available. Then in week 7, he returns as the interim head coach again. While I'm comfortable with Vitt as the interim coach and want to believe this is going to go smoothly, I admit there will be a strain on the team as a whole.

Regardless of how they come out of the first six games a clear leader will need to visible. With Brees missing important bonding time with some of the younger guys, he may not be able to develop the chemistry necessary for consistent success.