After Further Review: Five takes on the Saints 2022 schedule
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: NFC South September
The Saints have three games in the month of September and all three are in the NFC South. The Saints open in Atlanta, host Tampa Bay in week two then close out the month at Carolina.
Opening the season within the division is nothing new but to have the first three games be division opponents is certainly unusual. On paper the Saints look as talented as the Bucs and more talented than the Falcons and Panthers. But as we saw last season, things can change pretty quickly.
This schedule also puts an emphasis on coming out of the gate strong. The last thing the Saints would want is to fall behind so quickly within the division.
Take Two: Late bye week
The Saints do not have their bye week following their week four London matchup with Minnesota. Instead, their open date comes in week 14 in December. In all my years of covering the Saints, I’ve never seen their bye this late in the season.
The team is generally not a fan of early bye weeks; I’m not sure how they feel about one so late. 13 straight games is a long stretch without a break.
The good news is they will get their ‘mini-bye’ in October after their Thursday night road trip to Arizona.
Take Three: Three Prime Times
Despite no Sean Payton or Drew Brees, the Saints still remain in the prime time mix in the NFL. They have three this season:
Week 7- Thursday @ Arizona
Week 9- Monday vs Baltimore
Week 13- Monday @ Tampa Bay
While they may be down from the five primetime games a season ago, the fact that the league still views the Saints as draws show the black & gold brand remains strong.
Take Four: Mid-season Challenge
The Saints toughest stretch will come from weeks 6-13. During that eight-week run, the Saints will face seven playoff teams from a season ago.
Week 6- vs Cincinnati
Week 7- @ Arizona
Week 8- vs Raiders
Week 9- vs Ravens
Week 10- @ Steelers
Week 11- vs Rams
Week 12- @ 49ers
Week 13- @ Tampa Bay
The only team that didn’t make the postseason last season was Baltimore and that was without Lamar Jackson. It’s impossible to know if all of these teams will be playoff teams again in 2022. But on the surface, this looks like where the Saints will make or break their season.
Take Five: Other Observations
- No primetime audience for Joe Burrow’s return to the Dome. That was a little bit of a surprise. Still, Burrow should have plenty of support in New Orleans that day.
- The Saints will play in seven outdoor stadiums this season and could face some potential weather issues. Their Christmas eve matchup in Cleveland and New Year’s day battle in Philadelphia could be very tricky.
- The Saints are 1-3 in their last four road Thursday night games. It’s never easy to play on a short week away from home.
- The Saints have never had to follow a London game with an immediate game right after it. I’ll be very curious to see how they handle that week of preparation.
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