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 whether one of these games will be played on a neutral site (such as London).
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.
Today we focus on:
Number 7: The San Francisco 49ers (Road)
The history between the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers is one that is fraught with heartbreak for the Saints. Veteran Saints fans have a lot of scar tissue from when the Saints routinely lost to the Niners in the 90s and it did not matter ow good New Orleans was, Joe Montana and company always found a way to best the Saints. Younger Saints fans remember how the best Saints team in the Sean Payton era lost a heartbreaker against Alex Smith and the Niners in 2011. This season, we all felt the pain of the Saints not making the playoffs this season because San Francisco came from a 17-point deficit against the Los Angeles Rams in the season finale. San Francisco was seemingly created just to break the hearts of New Orleans.
It must have been an interesting watch for Saints fans to see the Niners play the Rams again this past Sunday for the right to Super Bowl LVII and imagine that this could have been New Orleans. And I am willing to bet that many Saints fans, who do not harbor a lot of love for the Rams, were still happier to see the 49ers eliminated by Matthew Stafford and Los Angeles.
As San Francisco now turns its eyes to the 2022 season, one of their important home games will be against the New Orleans Saints. The Trey Lance era at quarterback is likely to have begun, with incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo widely expected to be released. For New Orleans, this will be a season featuring a head coach other than Sean Payton for the first time since 2012 when he was suspended for the year after the so-called “Bounty Gate” scandal. Both teams have ferocious defenses that should still be as good as advertised, but also feature offenses with an unproven commodity at quarterback. The Saints right now do not even know who will be taking snaps under center, with Jameis Winston currently a free agent, and only Taysom Hill and Ian Book as signed quarterbacks on the roster.
As any NFC game, this one should be very important for the Saints’ chances at making the playoffs next season. With Kyle Shanahan at the helm, the Niners figure to remain a contender in the conference. Whoever roams the sidelines for the Saints as the team’s new head coach will have to be ready for a tough contest in Santa Clara.
Emblematic of the history of both franchises, San Francisco leads the series between the two teams 49-27-2. Since 2006 however and the arrival of Sean Payton in New Orleans, the Saints are 7-4 against the Niners. New Orleans has also won the last meeting between the two teams, a 27-13 victory in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, in a game where Alvin Kamara had three touchdowns and New Orleans defense stymied a limited Nick Mullens at quarterback for San Francisco.
The last road game for the Saints in Santa Clara was also a victory, a 41-23 win over the 49ers by a Saints’ team that featured players like Brandin Cooks at wide receiver, Paul Kruger at defensive end, Nick Fairley at defensive tackle and gasp...Jairus Byrd at safety for New Orleans. The 2022 season will mark the beginning of a new era for New Orleans, and in many ways, a new one as well for San Francisco.
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