One week ago today, the NFL unveiled its schedule for the 2014 season. The New Orleans Saints learned who their 13 opponents would be and when the games would be played over the course of 17 weeks between early September and Late December. Having already taken a look at September's 4 game slate as well as what lies ahead in October, we now turn our attention to what the Saints will face as they enter the second half of their schedule in November.
This may well turn out to be the most difficult 4 game stretch of the season for the Saints. New Orleans will benefit from playing 3 of their 4 games in November at home in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, with a challenging trip to Pittsburgh rounding out the month. The Steelers are just one of three AFC North teams that the Saints will lock horns with in November. The team's lone NFC opponent will be the San Francisco 49ers, who have appeared in three consecutive NFC Championship games.
- Week 10- Sunday November 9- San Francisco 12pm Fox
- Week 11- Sunday November 16- Cincinnati 12pm CBS
- Week 12- Monday November 24- Baltimore 7:30pm ESPN
- Week 13- Sunday November 30- @Pittsburgh 12pm Fox
Week 10- San Francisco
The Saints begin their November slate by welcoming their old NFC West rivals, the San Francisco 49ers to the Superdome. Jim Harbaugh's club is hoping to reach its 4th straight conference title game, and came just one play from making their 2nd straight Super Bowl appearance last year. The 'niners defeated the Saints in a memorable NFC divisional playoff game in January 2012, and have split the last two regular season meetings, both in New Orleans. The Saints won last season's contest 23-20 as Drew Brees passed for 305 yards and a touchdown.
Drew Brees faces another matchup with the 49ers.
San Francisco figures to pick up right where they left off last season, and should once again contend for division, conference and Super Bowl honors alongside the Seattle Seahawks in the modern-day NFC West. The Saints will hope to have success on the ground in this one, which should give Brees and his receivers more felxibility and operating room in the passing game.
The Saints have won 7 out of the last 8 regular season matchups with the 49ers, San Francisco's lone win during that stretch coming in 2012.
Week 11- Cincinnati
The Cincinnati Bengals will represent the Saints' 4th consecutive 2013 playoff opponent, a run of games that begins with a primetime showdown against the Green Bay Packers on October 26. The Bengals suffered another early postseason exit, but had an impressive 2013 regular season on the strength of a formidable defense and an offense capable of producing game-changing plays. Will the Saints be able to contain the dynamic AJ Green ?
With Mike Zimmer now in charge of the Minnesota Vikings and Jay Gruden at the helm of the Washington Redskins, Head Coach Marvin Lewis will have a new set of coordinators. Hue Jackson, promoted to Gruden's former role, will look to help Quarterback Andy Dalton take the next step in his young career, while hoping for continued progression from Giovani Bernard, who had a strong finish to his rookie campaign last year. A.J. Green remains as dangerous as ever, and the Saints will hope for a strong performance from their defense to put pressure on Dalton and force the former TCU signal-caller to make plays with his arm consistently.
The teams have met 12 times throughout their history, and have split the series evenly, 6-6.
Week 12- Baltimore
The Super Bowl XLVII winners will return to the site of their most recent championship triumph when they face the Saints in a Monday night showdown Thanksgiving week. The Ravens had a disappointing follow-up to their 2nd Super Bowl title run, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs altogether. Joe Flacco and the Ravens are hoping to return to form following a disappointing 2013 season.
Coach John Harbaugh will hope for a return to the signature brand of offensive efficiency and dominant defense that has been synonymous with the Baltimore Ravens during his tenure. Joe Flacco and the offense, in particular, struggled throughout 2013. Ray Rice will look to brush aside a difficult 2013 season and 2014 offseason, hoping to prove there is still plenty of fuel to burn.
The Ravens defense has bothered Drew Brees and the Saints' offense in the past, and it will take a balanced attack to keep Terrell Suggs and company at bay. Look for an emphasis on the run game and screen game from New Orleans in this one.
These two teams will serve as one another's preseason finale on August 28.
Week 13- @Pittsburgh
Black and Gold will meet Black and Yellow at the end of this month, as the Saints will travel to Heinz Field for a battle with the Steelers. The Saints last won in Pittsburgh in 2007, and will have a chance to show that their offense is, indeed, weather proof and capable of operating in the elements in what could very well be a chilly day in western Pennsylvania.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers are hoping to return to the playoffs, while the team's ageing defense looks to show it can still compete at a high level. The Steelers figure to continue to lean on Roethlisberger's arm, while hoping for more success from Le'Veon Bell and the running game.
Troy Polamalu and the Steelers are looking for a return to postseason glory in 2014.
This game will serve as a reunion of sorts for two players in particular. Keenan Lewis spent the first four years of his pro career in the Steel City, while Lance Moore, will face off against the Saints following his offseason release and subsequent signing with Pittsburgh.
Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau will likely look to pressure Drew Brees early and often, while hoping for big plays from Roethlisberger and their own passing game. The lone November away game for New Orleans, this could turn out to be the most difficult matchup of the month for the Saints.
As stated above, this is without a doubt the toughest 4-game stretch of the season for the New Orleans Saints. Four capable opponents who have the pieces and accompanying experience to realistically contend for postseason honors and possibly more. Our November predictions...
- San Francisco W
- Cincinnati W
- Baltimore W
- @ Pittsburgh L
While 2-2 would not be a complete let-down, we will go ahead and look for another 3-1 return from the 3rd month of the season. If you are keeping track, this would put the Saints at 9-3, based on our predictions. The games against the 49ers and Steelers should present the most difficult hurdles, while the middle two games against the Bengals and Ravens offer unique challenges of their own. Check back soon for our 4th and final installment of our regular season predictions for your 2014 New Orleans Saints.