The NFL is planning to release the season schedule on Wednesday, May 12, which is now just one week away. The Saints are going to be an interesting team to watch in 2021, as they will have a new leader at quarterback for at least this year. New Orleans has lost a lot of talent, coaching, and a key member of the front office, but still look to be a contender in the league.
The league's new 17-game format will be something to watch. Last year, the Saints technically got five primetime games (that's assuming you count the Vikings game). They had two in September (at Raiders, vs. Packers), one in October (vs. Chargers), and one in November (at Bucs) This year certainly has a similar feeling to it, and here's some thoughts on who New Orleans could face in primetime.
Jameis Winston, presumably the favorite to start for the Saints in 2021, leading the way against the defending Super Bowl champions with Tom Brady? Yeah, that's enough for me. Honestly, this screams of an opening night game for the NFL. When you look at the Bucs other home opponents, the only other one who might make sense from a good ratings draw would be the Cowboys or Bills.
This was absolutely one of the more entertaining games of the 2020 NFL season, and we all remember what Alvin Kamara did against the Packers defense last time. Naturally, Aaron Rodgers had the last laugh, but it's hard to envision this game not getting top billing like it usually does. Of course, let's see what happens with Green Bay and their quarterback.
Only one game between the Saints and Cowboys from the Sean Payton Era, coincidentally the 2012 season without him, has not been played in a primetime setting. They've played each other nine times since 2006. This draws a ton of fans, regardless of the venue. Of course, we're assuming that we'll be back to normal this year.
Out of all the AFC opponents to consider for a primetime game, this feels like the favorite to me. I'm thinking late season vibes, similar to the Packers-Titans in Week 16 of last year. Tennessee only had three primetime matchups last year, but strung together a nice 11-5 record powered behind their Offensive Player of the Year in Derrick Henry. The last game between these two ended up being quite entertaining.
This doesn't get talked about a lot, but the game against the Bills feels like it'll get the protected CBS treatment (like the Chiefs game last year). I could also see the game against the Patriots being an afternoon affair, but would be a sleeper pick of a primetime game. Also, based on how the NFL draft unfolded, New Orleans will presumably face off against Zach Wilson (Jets). Something about that just smells of Thursday Night Football. That could be interesting in itself.
The road game against the Falcons won't be in London, or shouldn't be, according to the scheduling of a non-divisional opponent. The team had just four noon kickoffs, as half of the Saints' games were in the afternoon slot, and that's counting the flexed one in Week 17 against the Panthers. The official prediction for Saints primetime games in 2021 is four.