This past week we got to see the New Orleans Saints' full schedule release, which includes 3 primetime games & a trip to London. With this, we now get a chance to see who the Saints will be opening the season against and how the last games of the schedule could impact their chances at a playoff push. In this article, I will be going over my first 5 thoughts regarding this schedule, and how they may affect the Saints' chances at a playoff run throughout the season.
Weeks 1-3 divisional matchups could be great...or horrible
As you can see in the tweet above, the Saints will be starting off their first three weeks against divisional opponents. This could be an absolutely amazing chance to take an early division lead and get the momentum rolling into their trip to London in week 4. However, this could also be a negative, as all time the Saints are 1-7 against the Falcons when playing them the opening week, which does not necessarily come as a surprise as 6/7 of said losses came before 1990. Playing against division rivals, regardless of the talent of the team, will always be a hard-fought battle, as they will always play with 100% intensity or more. As long as the Saints can get off to a hot start and really at a bare minimum win 2⁄3 of this stretch of games, they should be in a great position for a successful season.
London game comes early against Minnesota Vikings
After the previously mentioned 3 straight divisional matchups to start up the season, the Saints then have to travel across the pond to London to take on the Minnesota Vikings. This will count as a home game for the Saints, as they have 8 home games on the season (+ London for a count of 9) and 9 away games. While this is obviously not a true home game, it will count in the place of one as there is no even way to split it. Obviously, we all remember the last time these two teams went up against each other...that being the 2020 Christmas Day matchup when Alvin Kamara matched history with 6 rushing touchdowns on the day.
The last four games against Minnesota have been split 50/50 for wins, taking the 2018 and 2020 regular-season matchups, and losing the respective playoff matchups. The Saints will look to match the success that Alvin Kamara had last time they played and take home a third win in three regular-season games played in London.
Weeks 11-13 prior to bye week could make things tough
The Saints finally got a late bye week after a few years of bye weeks prior to week 10 recently. This is great news as if they are playoff contenders like we expect, it will give any injured players an extra week late in the season to heal up before some late-season games. However, the stretch prior to this bye week could prove difficult, as they will take on the reigning SB champion Los Angeles Rams, the San Francisco 49ers (10-7 playoff team in 2021), and then their second matchup against the division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the Saints have had great games against the Bucs in the regular season lately, they are still a difficult team to bear regardless, and this short stretch could be one of two things.
- A great way for the Saints to take the division lead or hold it entering the bye week if they beat TB, and put the league on notice for beating three very good teams.
- A way for the Saints to lose traction on the Bucs for the division lead, or losing the lead completely if the records are close enough.
Obviously the prior would be the hope, and as long as the Saints can hold on for this short stretch of tough games, they will reap the rewards in a late bye week.
Jarvis Landry gets a “revenge game” on Christmas Eve
While the deal is not “officially official” as he has to pass his physical, it is all but set for Jarvis Landry to be singing with the New Orleans Saints. This move will be a great addition to a Saints receiving core that will finally have some depth to it and has significantly improved from last year’s.
Landry will now get the chance to get his “revenge” of sorts against the team he played for over the past 4 seasons, as they released him earlier this offseason. While it is not necessarily revenge, as he did turn down a contract from them, he will still get his chance to show he can play ball and win against his former team on Christmas Eve day with a 12 PM CT/ 1 PM ET kickoff. This should be lined up to be a great game barring injuries as well, as it will be two of the better teams from each conference on paper trading blows for 60 minutes.
Late game stretch is full of trap games... but a good chance to get wins as well
The last 4 games of the season are some of the easier on the schedule aside from the Cleveland Browns. These 3 games come against:
- Week 15: Atlanta Falcons (7-10 in 2021)
- Week 17: Philadelphia Eagles (9-8 in 2021)
- Week 18: Carolina Panthers (5-12 in 2021)
Hypothetically, after the bye week, the Saints should be able to close the season out pretty well provided they do not fall into the trap game aspect of these. 2 division rivals line up in this stretch, which as previously mentioned are always hard-fought games regardless of what the teams have as a record. The Eagles have also had the Saints’ number the last few years, taking both the 2021 and 2020 matchups, as well as the 2015 one, while losing in 2018 and the 2019 divisional-round game. This late-season stretch could prove to be extremely useful if the Saints need a last-minute push for seeding or the division lead, but could also ruin it if they overlook it as just easy games.