The 2021-22 NFL regular season in is the books, and only one game is left to determine who will be the 2021-22 NFL Super Bowl champion. Unfortunately for the New Orleans Saints, the season ended on January 9, 2022, and our eyes now turn to the 2022-23 NFL season.
The Saints’ opponents for next regular season as well as the games’ venues have now all been disclosed, with the only missing information being the dates and times of the games. So, we now know that the Saints’ 2022 home opponents will, as expected, include their division rivals (Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers). In addition, New Orleans will face the Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders and Minnesota Vikings. If you counted with me, yes, the Saints have nine home games in 2022. It remains to be seen which one of these games will be played on a neutral site (New Orleans is expected to play a game in England in the 2022 season).
As we are in this new 17-game format in the NFL regular season, the Saints will play eight games on the road in 2022, their three divisional opponents as is customary, plus the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles.
In this top 10, we will focus on the appeal of the matchup. With most NFL squads far from being finalized for 2022, it would be difficult to assess all individual matchups at this point. However, we look at factors such as: teams that the Saints do not play very often, or teams that have prominent players with ties to either the Saints or the state of Louisiana.
At Number 10 in our matchups countdown was the game between the Saints and the Cleveland Browns, which you can read about here.
At Number 9 in our matchups countdown was the game between the Saints and the Arizona Cardinals, which you can read about here.
At Number 8 in our matchups countdown was the game between the Saints and the Seattle Seahawks, which you can read about here.
At Number 7 in our matchups countdown was the game between the Saints and the San Francisco 49ers, which you can read about here.
At Number 6 in our matchups countdown was the game between the Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which you can read about here.
At Number 5 in our matchups countdown was the game between the Saints and the Atlanta Falcons, which you can read about here.
Today we focus on:
Number 4: The Baltimore Ravens (Home)
In the Super Bowl era (which began in 1966), the New Orleans Saints and the Baltimore Ravens have only played each other seven times. New Orleans is 2-5 overall against the Ravens, one of the few franchises that Sean Payton could not tame in his Saints tenure. Indeed, of the seven meetings, four happened between 2006 and 2018, and the Saints were only 1-3 in those games. However, Payton’s lone win in four tries against the Ravens came in the last encounter between the two teams, a tenuous 24-23 win in the Saints’ scorching 2018 season.
For a trip down memory lane, that 2018 New Orleans team, who would lose in the NFC Championship game to the Los Angeles Rams, featured the likes of Josh LeRibeus at left guard, Max Unger at center, and on defense Alex Okafor roamed the pass rushing lanes alongside Cam Jordan, why Vonn Bell, he of the Cincinnati Bengals Super Bowl team, played in the defensive backfield with Marcus Williams. Of course, Drew Brees was at quarterback for New Orleans, while “Elite” Joe Flacco was calling the signals for the Ravens. Trailing 17-7 through three quarters, the Saints looked like they were going to lose a fourth consecutive game to the Ravens. But then New Orleans used a 17-6 fourth quarter rally to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, when the usually reliable Justin Tucker missed an extra point that would have tied the game with only 28 seconds to go.
Now, four years later in 2022, the Baltimore Ravens will be back in New Orleans for the first time since 2014, when they beat a mediocre Saints team 34-27. The quarterback this time will not be an immobile Joe Flacco, but one of the most exciting and elusive quarterbacks that the NFL has ever seen, and he will be coming back with a lot to prove. Lamar Jackson was hurt for most of the 2021 season, and quickly became somewhat of an afterthought. What with the likes of Kyler Murray and his Cardinals, Dak Prescott of the Cowboys, Justin Herbert (Chargers) and Joe Burrow (Bengals) taking all the spotlight, Jackson swiftly vanished from our collective minds into the dreaded NFL oblivion of stars passed their 15 minutes as darlings of the sport.
A healthy Lamar Jackson is a frightening proposition for any defensive coordinator, and the 2022 Saints are not a team that will want to get in shootouts against any opponent, let alone one that has a quarterback that can singlehandedly take over a game. Baltimore, after missing out on the playoffs in 2021 just like New Orleans, will be eager to get back to the postseason, just as the Saints will be.
Finally, what makes this game so interesting is also the fact that due to the quirks of the NFL scheduling and the teams being in opposite conferences, the Saints and Ravens only play on the opponent’s turf every eight years. So, for the fans in the Superdome, this will be a rare chance to see Lamar Jackson and a Baltimore team that will not return to play in NOLA until the 2030 NFL season!
This will be a fun one to go to and see if the New Orleans Saints can manage to win a second game in a row over the Baltimore Ravens. If they do so, it would be a first for New Orleans in the all-time series.
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