NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Saints' 2016 schedule was released Thursday and while it was already known that their opponents' 2015 records gave them the 4th-toughest strength of schedule, the timing is key.
For the first time since 2013, the Saints will open their season at home as the Raiders come to town followed by a trip to the Giants in week two. The next two weeks will have special meaning as the Falcons come to town on a Monday night 10 years and one day since Steve Gleason's blocked punt marked the reopening of the Superdome. Then Drew Brees will return to San Diego for a game for the first time since he played for the Chargers.
The Saints' week five bye falls before a stretch of three straight playoff opponents. First, a home bout against the Panthers, then a trip to Kansas City, followed by a visit from the Seahawks. Seattle's first trip to New Orleans since 2010 will be followed by the Saints' first trip to San Francisco since January 2012's divisional round loss.
The defending-champion Broncos come to town Sunday, Nov. 13 and then the Saints have a quick turnaround to face the defending NFC champions, Carolina, on Thursday, Nov. 17.
After a ten-day reprieve, the Los Angeles Rams come to town followed by the Lions, the only back-to-back home stand for the Saints.
Three of the last four games will be played on the road, starting with week 14 at Tampa and week 15 at Arizona due to the LHSAA championship games in The Dome. The Bucs and Saints square off on Christmas Eve (a Saturday) at noon and then the season closes in Atlanta, just as the previous campaign did.
13 of the Saints games will be on FOX 8, your home for the Saints.