It’s that time of the year, the crazy frenzy of free agency has died down, the draft is still a week away and the 2019 season is a distant thought some months down the line. BUT the NFL train keeps on rolling with the schedules being released on Wednesday.
I’m sure you’ve seen it already but he it is again with some of my personal thoughts on each game.
Week 1: Saints Vs Houston Texans – Monday Night Football.
Not the easiest of starts but a home game nonetheless. With the Saints being notoriously slow starters a home game is a nice to have but it won’t be an easy one. The kings of the AFC South face the kings of the NFC South in a South showdown on Monday night prime time. With this being the first game since THAT NFC championship game, the Who Dat Nation will be right up for it. Bring the noise and start off the season right. The Saints last played the Texans in 2015 with the Texas team winning 24-6 in Houston. If the trend continues with the home team winning every match-up, the Saints will get the W this time and improve to 3-2-0 against the Texans overall.
Speaking of the NFCC game, that leads us to week 2.
Week 2: Saints @ LA Rams – Late Sunday.
The rematch of no-call-gate, ref-gate etc. Happens as early as week 2 in the LA coliseum this time. You better believe the Saints will want revenge but like I said, slow starters travelling to LA to face the Rams. Expect banners, shade being thrown (but no flags -_-), jokes a plenty flying around this game will have it all. I’m talking high drama, commitment, passion or you know, the Rams will put up 3 points again like in the Superbowl and it will be a damp squib. Again it won’t be easy but if we can go into LA and take the win it will really put down a marker for the season ahead. We all know the result of the previous game, so let’s ignore that one.
The west coast theme continues on to week 3.
Week 3: Saints @ Seattle Seahawks – Late Sunday.
Another Sunday, another trip west, this time to the Pacific North West and the Seattle Seahawks. With Russell Wilson and his shiny new contract it’s another tough one in a hostile environment. This is the first match-up in Seattle since then 2013 season when the Seahawks beat the Saints twice, once in the regular season and once in the NFC divisional round 23-15. However the Saints won their last match-up 25-20 back in 2016 at the Superdome. If the Saints can come out of these 1st three games with a 2-1 record they will be well on the way.
Week 4 doesn’t get much easier either.
Week 4: Saints Vs Dallas Cowboys – Sunday Night Football.
Familiar foes meet again in week 4 at the Superdome. Having only last played in Arlington on TNF back in November with the Cowboys winning the defensive showdown 13-10, the Cowboys visit NOLA for another big game on prime time TV. It will be interesting to see what Dallas shows up for this one – will it be the hard hitting defensive showing of the 2018 game or their performance in the playoffs of the same year. Only Time will tell.
Week 5 should see some pressure ease a bit, but we all know the Saints do it the hard way.
Week 5: Saints Vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sunday Early.
Those pesky Tampa Bay Buccaneers comes rolling to town in week 5 with all “Eatin’ W’s” quotes and crab like hands Jameis Winston is set for a return to the starting QB position. With Ryan Fitzpatrick in deeper Florida with the Dolphins there will hopefully be no repeat of the crazy 48-41 shootout between the two in this match-up last year. The first divisional match for the Saints in 2019 comes late but will hopefully be worth the wait – The Saints currently lead this 2-game-a-season match-up with a 33-21-0 record.
More Florida based opponents in Week 6.
Week 6: Saints @ Jacksonville Jaguars – Early Sunday.
Not an opponent the Saints are familiar with for week 6, the last meeting being 2015 with the Saints being victorious 38-27 in NOLA, the Jags will be looking for a much improved 2019 season. Who knows what this Nick Foles led team will do this year? But surely an improvement on the much maligned Blake Bortles. Still, I can see a W in the headlights for the Black and Gold boys. The Saints will hope LSU product Leonard Fournette doesn’t rush all over them as he did to many people back in 2017, the soon to be London Jaguars (pinch of salt please) are still looking for their identity after massive fluctuations between that playoff 2017 team and last seasons shambles.
We stay on the road for week 7.
Week 7: Saints @ Chicago Bears – Late Sunday.
Another tough road game in the early to mid season stint, this time in Chicago. For all those believers that the Saints and especially Drew Brees “Can’t play in cold weather” this will be good news for them as the weather shouldn’t be too brisk in October. Another strong defensive team (from last season) the last meeting ended 20-12 in the Saints favour in 2017 with black and gold winning the last 4 meets (2 home and 2 road games) their series is tied at 15-15-0. Expect another hostile crowd to deal with. This writer will hopefully be attending the Raiders/Bears game in London in week 5 so will be sure to send my scouting report to Coach Payton and the team.
Week 8 is a welcome return to the superdome.
Week 8: Saints Vs Arizona Cardinals – Early Sunday.
On paper and on last season’s form, a gimmie, a banker, home win but a lot will have changed between now and the start of the season. Who will be under center for the Cardinals? Will it be no.1 draft pick elect Kyler Murray? Or will Josh Rosen still be the guy. I mean, it shouldn’t really matter, the Saints should have too much for whoever the Cardinals put out with the depth of both rosters. The last meeting was 2016 in another shootout (48-41 Saints win) and this writer is hopefully heading out to see a trouncing of those birds. A repeat of the 2009 divisional round win would be nice!
A well deserved week off in week 9.
Week 9: BYE
Ah relaxation, a later bye than the Saints are used to, it will sure be welcome with what’s left to come. The NFC South extravaganza starts in week 10.
Week 10: Saints Vs Atlanta Falcons – Early Sunday.
Ah the dirty birds. Always attempting to throw shade on twitter with nothing to back it up. Give it a rest guys, that blown lead in the Superbowl always trumps everything – still enjoy when people retweet the “15 minutes away” tweet from the official page, too funny. The Saints beat the Falcons twice in 2018, 31-17 and in OT 43-37 and will hopefully keep that up and keep them quiet for longer, call us the “Aints” all you like, we will call you trash that deserves to be Swept away.
Week 11 is next and it’s some pirates on the horizon.
Week 11: Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Early Sunday.
Florida, road, November. Not too cold, not too hot and the Saints will hopefully get the sweep of the Bucs in their 2nd match-up of the 2019 season. Sometimes a banana skin for the team, the Saints got the win here 28-14 in 2018 and another notch in the W column will be very welcome at this stage of the season.
Week 12 continues the NFC South theme.
Week 12: Saints Vs Carolina Panthers – Early Sunday.
The Panthers are in New Orleans week 12 with their most unpredictable of teams. Carolina are a team that should be good on paper but just aren’t when it comes down to it, they always have a few standout players, Christian McCaffrey last season but never quite make it. That’s fine for me means the Saints should be able to pick up a valuable win in the home fixture with playoff picture starting to take early shape. The last meeting in NOLA was that end of season replacements game losing 33-14 and a repeat performance would not be welcome, I suppose we did rest every man and his dog that week though.
Week 13 makes its 4 NFC South games on the spin.
Week 13: Saints @ Atlanta Falcons – Thanksgiving! Late.
Thanksgiving football for the Saints is back! And it’s against the Falcons again. They must have enjoyed their home loss last season so much they thought to do it all over again, how generous. Short weeks are never easy regardless of time of year, opponent etc. but this is sure to be another showdown.
The November rain of the NFC South stops in week 14.
Week 14: Saints Vs San Francisco 49ers – Early Sunday.
December kicks off with the 49ers in town and possibly Jimmy Garoppolo’s first start in the Big Easy. I don’t quite know what to make of this team, a tough one but the Saints are at home so I’m always confident of a win. The last meeting saw a 41-23 victory for the Saints in San Fran 2016 so Drew and Crew will be hoping for more of the same this time around unlike the last game in NOLA which the 49ers won 27-24 in the superdome. The 49ers lead the series by a massive 48-26-2 so time to close that gap up.
Week 15 closes out the home fixtures.
Week 15: Saints Vs Indianapolis Colts – Monday Night Footballllll.
It’s the Superbowl XLIV rematch game! The Colts are welcomed to New Orleans with hopefully pick 6’s by Tracy Porter coming back for Touchdowns, is Porter available for this fixture? Anyhow a team I think will have a strong season but with plenty of additions still to be made, if they get them right I’m looking at the Colts as a potential playoff team in the AFC. Could be a hugeee game in the context of the season, especially with the Saints closing out on 2 road games. The Saints have won the last 3 matchups including the 31-17 Superbowl win. 2015 was the last game in Indy with a 27-21 win for New Orleans, before that in 2011 the Saints racked up a massive 62 points in a 62-7 demolition job.
The first of those road games is week 16.
Week 16: Saints @ Tennessee Titans – Sunday Early.
The last time the Saints and the Titans went head to head the Titans beat New Orleans 34-28 in 2015 at the Superdome however in 2011 the Saints got it done in TN with a 22-17 road win. It’s not a team I have particularly ever followed with much interest but hey they have an okay team in an okay place who do, well, okay. One of the most mediocre teams at the moment and they always seem to have close games with one score either way settling the results. Can’t call this one, I just don’t know what team will show up, maybe we will be resting starters by this time, we live in hope.
One week to go. Week 17.
Week 17: Saints @ Carolina Panthers – Sunday Early.
Potential flex game this one, all depends on either teams’ records. I would like to go to Carolina and win, regardless of the season situation but let’s see what’s on offer for the final record, playoff implications etc. Seems to be a theme of recent years that the Saints and Panthers face off in the final week. The Saints won at Carolina in 12-9 score fest last season.
That’s that then. 17 weeks, 16 games and a whole lot of fun (hopefully). I will put out a way too early prediction too…..11-5. The start is the key. If there’s 2-1 from those 3 it will be a great start, 3-0 would be fantastic but really quite difficult. The defining moments in this season will come post bye week when the division will really take its shape, drop 2 L’s there and playoffs may be missed.
I back the Saints to produce the goods at home and take the Losses on the road but there’s always a rogue result in there (probably a home loss to Tampa again) only time will tell.