Despite the offseason retirement of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, the NFL was respectful to the New Orleans Saints when they released the 2021 regular-season schedule.
The Saints have five games in front of a primetime television audience, tied for most in the league. Their season-opening contest against the Green Bay Packers at home will also be the Fox Sports 'Game of the Week.'
New Orleans will play two games on a holiday. The Saints will be on the league's normal slate of games for Halloween, which falls on a Sunday.
Also, for the third time in four years, New Orleans will also be the nightcap of a triple-header of Thanksgiving contests.
The Saints are a winning team and good for ratings. Sean Payton's teams have a league-best 49-15 record over the last four seasons, including four consecutive NFC South championships.
New Orleans is considered a small-market team, but the NFL recognizes the significant television ratings the Saints can generate.
A list of primetime or holiday opponents the New Orleans Saints will face in 2021.
- Monday, October 25 - at Seattle Seahawks
- Sunday, October 31 - vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Halloween)
- Thursday, November 25 - vs. Buffalo Bills (Thanksgiving)
- Thursday, December 2 - vs. Dallas Cowboys
- Sunday, December 19 - at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Monday, December 27 - vs. Miami Dolphins
Since head coach Sean Payton took over the franchise in 2006, the Saints have been one of the league's most dominant teams in front of a prime-time audience.
In fourteen years of stalking the sideline for New Orleans, Payton's teams have a 143-81 regular-season record, a winning percentage of .638.
When the lights go on, Payton's teams have a winning percentage of .667, a 36-18 record, on Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night matchups.
Including an incredible 26-6 record at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome- considered one of the most challenging places to play.
- 6-6 overall
- (Home = 4-0; Away = 2-6)
- 13-4 overall
- (Home = 10-1; Away = 3-3)
- 17-8 overall
- (Home = 12-5; Away = 5-3)
New Orleans also shines bright during holiday showdowns - to make matters worse for the rest of the league. On Halloween (October 30th and 31st), Thanksgiving, and Christmas (December 24, 25, or 26), the Saints have a perfect 11-0 record under Sean Payton.
His teams are a combined 47-18 during games played at night or directly around a holiday, a winning percentage of .723.
Of course, this year's five games at night and Halloween contest will not guarantee a New Orleans victory.
However, history tells us the Saints will bring their ‘‘A-game,'' especially when the rest of the world is watching - something that might not have the rest of the NFL in a celebratory mood.