It goes without saying, but we're ready for Saints football to return for the new NFL season. This year has had way more buildup because of what transpired across the league due to COVID-19 last season. We'll get our first glimpse of the year when the Cowboys take on the Bucs on Thursday Night Football.
Like last year, we'll go through each game and give some early wins and losses for the schedule. Let's cut to the chase and preview how the Saints season could hypothetically play out.
Week 1 - vs. Green Bay Packers | Win
Being displaced due to Hurricane Ida and having to play in Jacksonville just feels like it's going to be too important of a game for the Saints to drop. This ends up being the start of a three-game 'road' stretch for New Orleans, and I think they're going to shock a lot of people.
Saints 31, Packers 24
Week 2 - at Carolina Panthers | Win
The first NFC South foe on the agenda for the Saints sees them facing Christian McCaffrey and Sam Darnold. There's still a lot of question marks with Carolina going into this season, and I think New Orleans will be just fine for a strong start to the season.
Saints 27, Panthers 17
Week 3 - at New England Patriots | Loss
The Saints face Mac Jones, and that can honestly go either way given their history with rookie quarterbacks. Bill Belichick has a lot to prove with his team after a lackluster year without Tom Brady at the helm. Sean Payton is 1-2 against New England, with the lone win coming back in 2009. We won't forget about 2013 either.
Patriots 24, Saints 20
Week 4 - vs. New York Giants | Win
For now, this is the game that sees the Saints making their Superdome debut. It's going to be rowdy, and I don't see the Giants coming in to play spoilers.
Saints 34, Giants 13
Week 5 - at Washington Football Team | Win
The Saints have a small reunion facing off against Ron Rivera. They'll be a better team, but New Orleans will be able to keep things going into their off week. Of course, the last time they played there was a disaster and spelled the end for Rob Ryan.
Saints 28, Football Team 21
Week 6 - Bye Week
It's hard to be a fan of the early bye week when you're facing 17 games. So, look at it as a small break before the Saints play their next 12. Hopefully the league comes to a point where they add an extra one and look at expanding rosters.
Week 7 - at Seattle Seahawks | Loss
This looks to be the game where the team will have Michael Thomas back. Seattle on Monday Night Football is a tough draw. The Saints shocked the Seahawks the last time they played in Seattle with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm. Perhaps lighting could strike twice with Winston leading the charge, but chalking this one up to Russell Wilson.
Seahawks 26, Saints 21
Week 8 - vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Win
Jameis Winston officially gets to start against the team that drafted him, and he gets the home crowd on his side. Everyone remembers what happened with the Bucs came to town last after the Saints swept them in the regular season. That energy will make for an interesting matchup in the Superdome, and I look for New Orleans to come out on top.
Saints 31, Bucs 28
Week 9 - vs. Atlanta Falcons | Win
The Dirty Birds come to town for an early November clash in the Superdome. This is a Falcons team who is finding a new identity this season with a new head coach and familiar face in Terry Fontenot heading up their front office. This probably won't be the year they turn the corner. but they're one to keep an eye on as the season progresses. Let's just hope for some C.J. Gardner-Johnson antics here.
Saints 34, Falcons 27
Week 10 - at Tennessee Titans | Loss
This ended up being the 17th game added to the team's schedule, which will be another road contest. Don't worry, it'll change in 2022 when the Saints get another home game. This was really entertaining the last time they met in Nashville. It also didn't feature Derrick Henry. Expect it to be close, and also to be the subject of a potential flex after the league missed out on it previously.
Titans 28, Saints 23
Week 11 - at Philadelphia Eagles | Loss
This rematch from last year saw the Saints flop in what was Taysom Hill's worst outing as a starter. New Orleans has been a team that traditionally hits a stride in the middle of the season, and it's hard putting back-to-back losses for them. This team usually hits a wall or struggles at some point in the year, but then comes back in a big way. This feels like like history repeating itself.
Eagles 24, Saints 17
Week 12 - vs. Buffalo Bills | Win
The Saints are putting a perfect Thanksgiving record on the line against a hungry Bills team. What could go wrong? Bills Mafia meets Who Dat Nation. It'll be one heck of a party to close out Thursday night, regardless of how things go.
Saints 34, Bills 31
Week 13 - vs. Dallas Cowboys | Win
This is going to draw a ton of eyeballs, as well as many travelers from East Texas. These two go at it on Thursday Night Football, and trying to picture what kind of team the Cowboys will have by this point of the year is anyone's guess. The Saints have won three straight at home against Dallas and have won six out of the past seven.
Saints 30, Cowboys 20
Week 14 - at New York Jets | Win
This will be the only 'cold weather' threat game of the regular season, which seems extremely fortunate. The Jets are a tough team to figure out this year, but they'll likely struggle. That being said, this may be a tougher one than the others. However, New Orleans will squeak by and keep it going.
Saints 24, Jets 21
Week 15 - at Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Loss
There's going to be a split in this series matchup, and of the two games, I'd pick New Orleans to lose the Sunday Night Football one. It's going to be a crucial matchup with major division and playoff implications. Presumably, Jameis Winston's homecoming gets spoiled after getting the first one.
Bucs 30, Saints 23
Week 16 - vs. Miami Dolphins | Win
This will end up being a very underrated Monday Night Football contest, as the Dolphins look to be a strong contender for at least a Wild Card in the AFC. Brian Flores will definitely have his squad prepared for this one, and they'll give Payton and company a strong showing, but he'll keep his undefeated streak (3-0) intact against Miami.
Saints 31, Dolphins 28
Week 17 - vs. Carolina Panthers | Win
The Saints could easily drop this game and win the finale, but for now we'll say they ride the highs from the win over the Dolphins going into the final week of the season.
Saints 27, Panthers 17
Week 18 - at Atlanta Falcons | Loss
It's weird not seeing the Panthers here to close out the season. By this point of the year, we're either going to see these two teams battling it out for Wild Card positioning or one team trying to play spoilers for the other. The Saints have actually performed well in their regular season finale for the past two years, but we'll just pretend this one won't matter.
Falcons 27, Saints 20
Way-Too-Early Saints Record Prediction: 11-6
Call me an extreme optimist, but I'm not buying the fallout of the team. I will say that 11 wins seems to be the ceiling here, and that would mean they would get into the playoffs as a Wild Card. My previous on the record prediction was 10-7. I do believe that the Bucs are the top threat to win the division, but at the same time, we saw how meaningless that becomes in the grand scheme of things.
Not having David Onyemata and Michael Thomas for a big stretch is certainly not ideal, and then the team will have to keep waiting to see if and when league discipline happens for Marshon Lattimore and Deonte Harris. Still, areas that can benefit the Saints in the early going include their offensive line and underrated defense to go along with strong coaching. This could be a great season or not, but doesn't feel like anything in between.
Hurricane Ida has brought a lot of devastation to the Louisiana area. Please consider donating to help those who have been affected. One great cause is donating to the Second Harvest Food Bank. Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football has already piloted a tremendous effort, and any support would be greatly appreciated as the area has a long road ahead to rebuild.