The NFL will be dropping their season schedule on Wednesday, which is a lot later than it usually comes. The new 17-game season format looks to be an interesting task for the schedule makers, but they'll find a way like always. The Saints are actually running a schedule contest where you can win $20,000 by guessing the correct order of their 2021 opponents.
As a recap, here's how their opponents shape up before we dive in to a hypothetical schedule.
Home: Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers, Packers, Cowboys, Giants, Bills, Dolphins
Away: Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers, Seahawks, Redskins, Eagles, Patriots, Jets, Titans
With all that taken into account, here's a guess on how the schedule could play out. It's really throwing a dart at the board.
Week 1 - at Bucs (NFL Season Opener)
What seems more fitting than this? Of the home opponents the Bucs have aside the NFC South, they have the Cowboys, Giants, Bills, Dolphins, and Bears. The Cowboys could be a big ratings draw, but one could make the biggest case for the Saints with Jameis Winston presumably at the helm facing off against Tom Brady.
Week 2 - at Panthers (early kick)
Back-to-back NFC South opponents to open the season sounds about right, and being on the road to open the year wouldn't be so bad. Remember that the Saints have one more road game with the 17th game added too.
Week 3 - vs. Cowboys (Primetime)
This game always draws a crowd, and it's hard to not see this get picked up for a primetime showdown. Dallas is out to prove that last year was just a fluke, especially after losing Dak Prescott. Hopefully this time around there's a much larger audience on-hand to welcome the Saints back in the Superdome.
Week 4 - at Seahawks (late kick)
The first real big road trip of the season sees New Orleans heading up to Seattle to take on Russell Wilson for an afternoon kickoff.
Week 5 - vs. Packers (Primetime)
It was disappointing to see this game in primetime and not have a vast audience. It certainly feels like this could be a Sunday Night Football contest between these two again. Of course, what happens if Aaron Rodgers isn't in the picture?
Week 6 - at Titans (late kick)
With the league adding the 17th game, the Saints will take on the Titans in Nashville. This was a really entertaining matchup in 2018, and they didn't have Derrick Henry in that contest. Fans will travel well to this one, regardless of when it is.
Week 7 - Bye
The Saints and an early bye pairing is a yearly tradition that doesn't seem like it'll get changed. There's only one bye week in the season too, despite adding an extra game.
Week 8 - at Patriots (late kick)
Depending on how these teams do early on, this game has some sleeper potential for a primetime matchup. However, the logical choice sees them play in the afternoon at Foxboro.
Week 9 - vs. Dolphins (early kick)
The Dolphins are one of the rising teams after what Brian Flores was able to do with them last season. The last time they came to the Superdome was in 2013, being a little surprising Monday Night Football matchup. The following matchup in 2017 was in London. Although compelling, it's just tough to see some national spotlight atmosphere happen again.
Week 10 - vs. Giants (early kick)
The first of two back-to-back home games for New Orleans doesn't come until the back half of the schedule.
Week 11 - at Eagles (late kick)
It was a weird experience watching this game at Lincoln Financial Field without fans. With some new faces in play, Philly seems like a team looking to compete. Here's to hoping it goes better for New Orleans this time around after having a strong run of dominance against them.
Week 12 - at Jets (early kick)
Presumably facing a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson who's had a chance to get some real football under his belt to face off against the Saints? It seemingly writes itself.
Week 13 - vs. Falcons (Primetime)
Feels like a Monday Night Football game is in order for one of the most underrated rivalries in the NFL.
Week 14 - vs. Buccaneers (late kick)
The 'rematch' would pit these two facing off as FOX's Game of the Week in a battle for NFC South supremacy.
Week 15 - at Falcons (early kick)
The NFL hasn't been afraid to put these divisional games in close proximity of each other in the past, and it wouldn't be upsetting to see it happen again. Of course, the back end of the schedule featuring mostly NFC South foes seems fitting too.
Week 16 - vs. Bills (late kick)
This matchups feels similar to the Chiefs game last year, and it'd get my vote for a late season protected CBS afternoon feature.
Week 17 - at Football Team (early kick)
You could sub just about any team here, but the Saints have been fortunate in the cold-weather elements game department. This breaks the cycle.
Week 18 - vs. Panthers (early kick)
It's happened three straight years, so it just feels like tradition at this point to see the Saints close out the season against Carolina. I mean, why not?