The full 2017 NFL schedule was released on Thursday, and the Saints will play the AFC East (Patriots, Dolphins, Bills, Jets), the NFC North (Vikings, Lions, Packers, Bears), of course the NFC South (Panthers, Buccaneers, Falcons), the Redskins and the Rams.
The Saints will open the season on Monday Night Football in Minnesota. That could be very interesting with the possible return of Teddy Bridgewater. Week 2 offers a chance at home in the Dome to dethrone the current NFL Champion New England Patriots.
But as if starting the season playing three out of four games on the road, or over the Atlantic Ocean, isn’t challenging enough; it’s especially hard on Saints fans, as they won’t experience a third home game in the Superdome until deep in the season, only a couple days before Halloween.
The Saints then have a really early Week 5 bye, which I would normally hate, but it comes directly after playing the Dolphins in London, so I think the extra days off will be appreciated by the players. Assuming they don’t go galavanting around Europe for a week. That’s what I’d do.
I wonder how many players are booking trips around the London game right now. Ibiza, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona…
Then in Weeks 6 through 8, the Saints get a heavy dose of the NFC North as they play Detroit, Green Bay, and Chicago consecutively. They play six of the final ten games at home and finish the season with games against two division rivals on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
This is a schedule that provides many challenges throughout the season. Every team on the schedule, except maybe the Jets, Bears, and Rams, could be really good this year. The Bucs gained DeSean Jackson. The Falcons have been active in free agency. The Panthers can only get better.
Playing northern teams in the north has never been the Saints nor especially Drew Bree’s strength. And playing in London? Well, only Brees, Zach Strief, and Roman Harper (if he was re-signed) know what that’s like because the Saints haven’t played in the international series since 2008.
I kind of feel like the first home game against the Patriots is going to be the most memorable game of the season. I hope I’m wrong because there are so many enticing match ups and chances for the Saints to really string together a winning season after failing three of the past four years to do so.
It will be an interesting season indeed.