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Who the CSC staff would like to see the Saints open with

Who should the Saints hope to play Week 1?

New Orleans Saints v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The 2023 NFL schedule will be released soon, and our most recent poll asked which divisional opponent you would most like to see the Saints open with.

The Atlanta Falcons won this poll (shocking that the Falcons won something I know) but let's take a look at who the some of the CSC Staff would like to see the New Orleans Saints open the season against.

Hayden R: Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are now led by #1 overall pick Bryce Young, and while that may be a tough obstacle to overcome in the future, we want to get the rookie QB as early as possible this year. The Panthers are much improved outside of Young, as they brought in weapons like D.J. Chark and Adam Thielen and also have solidified their defense. If we can see the Panthers in Week 1 however, either at home or on the road, it would be ideal to see the top overall pick as early as possible. The last QB picked #1 overall to win a game in Week 1 was actually David Carr in 2002, so as long as the Saints are ready, they should have a decent chance at defeating the #1 draft pick if they get him in Week 1.

Luke: Carolina Panthers

It has been 17 years since the Saints opened their regular season against the Panthers. If there’s any year to open against them again, it’s this year. The Saints will either face number one pick Bryce Young in his first professional game or a QB the Saints are all too familiar with in Andy Dalton. The Panthers are much improved from last year, so getting them in week one before the team has time to completely gel could prove important. Whether it’s at home or on the road, I think the Panthers are the best week one opponent for the Saints.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Tina: Atlanta Falcons

I really wanted to say the Carolina Panthers because I think they will be the Saints biggest competition for the division this season, but I went with the sentimental choice. How could I not want us to start out the season with big bang and win against our favorite and only real rival, the Atlanta Falcons. Now, I know Bucs fans will have something to say about that but come on, let’s get real. Now that Brady has retired, the bandwagon is broken down and busted. So back the Falcons. I would like to see our new and improved defense, face an unproven Desmond Ridder, who went 2-2 last season and Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has already named their starting quarterback back in late March. The Saints upgraded at quarterback by signing Derek Carr but the Falcons still have some big question marks on their roster, the biggest being upfront on their defensive line, who is ranked last in sacks over the last 2 seasons. For many reasons. this matchup is always a fun one but unfortunately, we opened against the Dirty Birds last season, so I know it won’t happen again. I think it will most likely be the Carolina Panthers.

Chris: Carolina Panthers

I agree with Hayden.

I’m playing to win now. The Panthers spent the majority of their offseason assets on acquiring Bryce Young at quarterback with the number one overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. While that might mean Young will likely be a thorn in the side of the New Orleans Saints for the next decade, I want to face him the team when they have the fewest other assets around him, and he has the least amount of NFL experience possible. Sure, a lack of NFL experience means a lack of NFL game tape on Young - and we know how the Saints struggle with rookie quarterbacks (RGIII, anyone?) - but I’ll take my chances with a Panthers team that traded away Christian McCaffrey last season and is relying on Adam Thielen to help fill the void left by D.J. Moore.

The Panthers might scare me later in the season, and will definitely scare me in 2024 and beyond, but I like the Saints’ chances in Week 1.

Matt: Carolina Panthers

I mean, Chris and Hayden nailed it. So I’m good, right?

But in all seriousness, the Saints will need to build some confidence and I don’t see a better opportunity than hosting the Carolina Panthers to open the 2023 season. You’ll get Carr and Williams comfortable in their new environments and will be able to rattle him early with one of the most raucous fanbases in the league.

New Orleans Saints v Green Bay Packers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Gregory: Green Bay Packers

Starting the season on the road has its advantages. The wear and tear of travel will be low, and it will be early enough in the season that weather will not be a factor. The Green Bay Packers road game should open the season. This would give the team a chance to avoid Winter weather while facing an opponent who is also working in a new starting quarterback. Also, this is the year that the Saints have nine road games and eight home games so beginning with a road game will check one off the list and hopefully push more home games toward the end of the season. This is not likely going to be the selection since these two teams opened the season against one another two years ago, but it would be a huge advantage to get this game out of the way early.

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