The NFL released the official schedule for the 2014 season tonight, and the New Orleans Saints now know where they will start and finish the regular season, as well as all points in between. First, some quick hits in regards to the schedule...
- The Saints are scheduled for 5 primetime kickoffs, 2 of which will be played at home in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. *
- They will bookend the season with divisional road matchups, starting away to Atlanta, and concluding week 17 at Tampa Bay.
- The team's first home game comes week 3 vs. Minnesota
- Highlighting the team's December schedule is a Monday Night matchup at Chicago in week 15.
- The team's Bye week falls during week 6, in between a home game vs. Tampa and a road game at Detroit.
- The team is not scheduled to play any Sunday afternoon late games. *
- The Saints will play just 5 games against teams that qualified for last season's playoffs (Carolina twice, San Francisco, Green Bay, Cincinnati) The Saints played last season's third most difficult schedule.This season's checks in as the 23rd toughest.
- Perhaps the trickiest matchup will be a Thursday night game at Carolina following a Sunday night game vs. Green Bay.
* It should be noted that this season, the flex schedule option can kick in to effect as early as week 5.
Coming off an 11-5 campaign in 2013, which ended with a divisional playoff round loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, the Saints once again have high expectations for 2014. The Saints struggled on the road last season, posting a 3-5 record in contrast to an unblemished 8-0 in the dome. The team faces difficult road games at Detroit, Carolina, Pittsburgh and Chicago, not to mention their week 1 tussle at Atlanta.
The team's 5 scheduled primetime showdowns are as follows...
- Week 4 @Dallas (Sunday night)
- Week 8 vs. Green Bay (Sunday night)
- Week 9 @ Carolina (Thursday night)
- Week 12 vs Baltimore (Monday Night)
- Week 15 @ Chicago (Monday night)
Ideally, the Saints would like to get off the ground running in September, starting in Atlanta and finishing in Dallas with favorable matchups against Cleveland and Minnesota in between. The Saints should hope to go at least 3-1 during this stretch, which would put them in nice shape heading into a difficult October. November will be challenging as well, with 3 difficult matchups against the always stout AFC North.
December brings its own unique challenges, as all teams must navigate through injuries and fatigue as they head into the stretch run of the regular season. The Saints will find 3 potential huge matchups against Carolina, Atlanta and Chicago, where division and playoff implications will likely be at stake.
In conclusion, a quick analysis of the New Orleans Saints' 2014 schedule shows a difficult but navigable road back to the postseason. Getting off to a plus start in September will be a huge bonus, and if the Saints can have a bit of luck on their side in terms of injuries, they should be in good shape heading into the latter part of the schedule.
Coming soon, we will break down each month of the Saints' schedule and offer our month-by-month and regular season predictions.
The New Orleans Saints 2014 schedule
- Week 1- September 7 @ Atlanta 12pm Fox
- Week 2-September 14 @ Cleveland 12pm Fox
- Week 3-September 21 Minnesota 12pm Fox
- Week 4-September 28 @ Dallas 7:30 pm NBC
- Week 5-October 5 Tampa Bay 12pm Fox
- Week 6- BYE
- Week 7-October 19 @Detroit 12pm Fox
- Week 8-October 26 Green Bay 7:30 pm NBC
- Week 9-October 30 @ Carolina 7:25 pm NFLN
- Week 10-November 9 San Francisco 12pm Fox
- Week 11-November 16 Cincinnati 12pm CBS
- Week 12-November 24 Baltimore 7:30 pm ESPN
- Week 13-November 30 @Pittsburgh 12pm Fox
- Week 14-December 7 Carolina 12pm Fox
- Week 15-December 15 @Chicago 7:30 pm ESPN
- Week 16-December 21 Atlanta 12pm Fox
- Week 17-December 28 @Tampa Bay 12pm Fox