The 2017 NFL Schedule is out, and we know how the New Orleans Saints will stack up. Book your road trips, get your tickets purchased, and strap in for what promises to be an exciting season of Saints football. Here’s some of my initial thoughts with the team’s schedule release.
- Only two prime time games slated for the Saints, while 10 NFL teams have more than five. Obviously, the ratings play a huge part in this, but the Saints won’t even have a home game in prime time this season.
- The Saints will start with three out of their first four games on the road, but will follow it up with having three out of the next four at home after the early bye week.
- Week 2’s Patriots-Saints matchup will be featured on CBS, and one would fully expect their ‘A’ crew of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo to call the game. Naturally, Brandin Cooks facing off against his former squad and a potential for Malcolm Butler to be on the other side would be fun to watch.
- Week 7’s Saints-Packers game should draw a FOX crew of Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, which is always exciting. The Saints face a three-game stretch of NFC North opponents, starting in Week 6 with the Lions.
- For the most part, the Saints are spared from the cold weather elements in having a lone December trip to Carolina (Dec. 3). Outside of their eight homes games, they’ll have two more played in a domed setting (Minnesota, Atlanta). The Dolphins game at Wembley Stadium features a closed roof feature, which only covers the seating.
- By my math, the Saints will travel nearly 22,000 miles this season (round trip). The largest road trip is obviously to London, some 9,294 miles, but the Vikings, Packers, Bills, and Rams games are each over 1,000 miles one-way.
- The NFL’s Flexible Scheduling starts in Week 5, and there are several games that could easily get flexed for the Saints.
- Presumably, A.J. Klein and Ted Ginn Jr. get to face off against his former team in Weeks 3 and 13, Larry Warford and Rafael Bush against the Lions in Week 6, and B.W. Webb will play against the Saints when the Bears come to town for Week 8.
Getting off on the right foot is imperative for Sean Payton’s squad in 2017. History has shown us in the Payton era that this team isn’t good at overcoming starting in a hole. Since 2006, the Saints are 5-6 in season openers. The glaring issue with that is that when they’ve lost the opener in five of those seasons (2007, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), they’ve led to 7-9 seasons. The lone exception was 2011, when the Saints finished 13-3 after losing to the Packers.
In the past three seasons, the Saints have combined for a 1-8 record through their first three games, having just a lone overtime win against a very stale Dallas Cowboys team. If you add in the preseason woes, in which the Saints have lost the past nine, you certainly see a ‘sense of urgency’ for this team to get off on the right foot. Now, preseason football is obviously meaningless (see the 2008 Lions). However, Payton’s squad needs to get a taste of what it’s like to win, even if it is a lame preseason contest.
Lastly, four of the final five games on the Saints schedule are NFC South opponents. If for some reason the team hits the wall or actually is in good shape, the division could very well be decided in the final five weeks of the NFL season. Of course, playoff scenarios would go wild too.
Based on the schedule, what’s your initial projected wins for the Saints?
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