Thursday night, the official 2023 NFL schedule was announced, and New Orleans Saints fans got their first look at the Saints 2023 schedule. The Saints schedule is one of the easiest in the entire NFL, in fact, they have the second easiest strength of schedule based on their opponents records from last season.
The Saints don’t have a single stretch where they play back-to-back opponents who finished above .500 last season, so it makes it hard to find their hardest stretch of games.
The Saints open up with a three-game stretch of Tennessee (.412), Carolina (.412) and Green Bay (.471). You can make an argument that the Panthers are a much improved team from last season, but you can’t really make that case for the Titans or Packers.
The next three games are against Tampa Bay (.471), New England (.471) and Houston (.206). Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes walked out the door when Tom Brady retired, New England seems to have stayed pretty stagnant and Houston has a much better roster, but they’re still in the middle of a heavy rebuild.
The Saints finally face their first opponent who was over .500 last season in the Jaguars (.529) in week seven. After them they get Indianapolis (.265), Chicago (.176) and Minnesota (.765). This has a case to be the Saints hardest stretch of games with the Jags and Vikings making the playoffs last season and the Bears improving their roster this offseason, but I think the Bears are still a couple years away and the Vikings showed they were fraudulent by losing in round one of the 2022 playoffs.
After a week 11 bye, the Saints enter what I consider to be their hardest four-game stretch of the season. First, they face off against their NFC South rival, Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons finished at 7-10 alongside the Saints in 2022, but they have completely revamped their roster, adding guys like Kaden Ellis, Bijan Robinson, Jesse Bates and more. NFC South games are never fun, especially not on the road.
Next, they get the Detroit Lions who have high expectations after winning 8 of their last 10 games in 2022. The Lions have a high-powered offense led by Jared Goff who was quietly one of the most efficient QBs in the league last season. They’ll have speedster Jameson Williams back from suspension to team up with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jahmyr Gibbs will headline their backfield. Luckily for the Saints, this game kicks off a three-game home stretch - their first time playing back-to-back home games all season.
After Detroit, they will face Carolina for the second time in 2023. The Panthers should be much improved from the first time the Saints faced them in week two. Rookie QB Bryce Young will have a lot more experience under his belt, and newcomers Miles Sanders, Adam Thielen, Hayden Hurst and others will have more experience in the system.
Capping off the Saints hardest stretch of the season is the New York Giants. With 2022 Coach of the Year winner, Bryan Daboll at the helm, the Giants proved they weren’t a team you want to mess with last year. Daniel Jones took huge strides, earning himself a new long-term contract. Saquon Barkley got back to his old ways, rushing for over 1,000 yards for the first time since 2019. They also added some pass catching weapons such as Jaylin Hyatt and Darren Waller.
To me, this is easily the hardest stretch of games the Saints play all season. Every team on this list has bolstered their roster and has playoff aspirations in 2023. None of these games will be easy wins, but luckily for the Saints, they get the benefit of playing three of these four games in the Superdome.
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