Saints 2020 schedule: Way-too-early game-by-game predictions
We can't say with complete certainty what the NFL season will look like, but the hope and vision is that we get back to normal in 2020. The New Orleans Saints have a great schedule this year, and it's packed with everything from anticipated rematches, exciting new opponents, and old faces playing against their former team. From a talent standpoint, the Saints have to be one of the best top-to-bottom rosters in the league. While we don't know how things will ultimately play out for the next four months, let's give some way too early game-by-game predictions for New Orleans.
Week 1 - vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Win
You might say that the Saints are going to be tested right out the gate in this late kickoff, but it could be argued that more pressure will be on the Buccaneers with the new Tom Brady regime kicking off. Tampa Bay had a strong draft to back up some of their free agent moves, but so did the Saints while keeping most of their roster intact. With crowd noise, it should make for a huge challenge for the Bucs. Without it, well, it certainly could go either way. Still, New Orleans draws first blood against the Brady's Bucs.
Week 2 - at Las Vegas Raiders (MNF) | Loss
It's going to be the first game in a new stadium and city for the Raiders. I'm as optimistic as the next guy, but the odds are in Las Vegas' favor here.
Week 3 - vs. Green Bay Packers (SNF) | Win
Aaron Rodgers vs. Drew Brees is going to be a great matchup on paper. It gets another prime time setting as it ought to. The last two home games the Saints hosted the Packers have been in prime time (2014, 2008), and New Orleans beat them by a combined score of 96-52. History repeats itself.
Week 4 - at Detroit Lions | Win
The Lions are a difficult team to figure out. They've undoubtedly become the Detroit Patriots with the roster moves they've made under Matt Patricia. They'll be better, but it won't be early in the season when New Orleans comes to town.
Week 5 - vs. Los Angeles Chargers (MNF) | Win
Assuming it's the Drew Brees farewell tour this year, then it's fitting that he'll play the team he was drafted by at home in a prime time setting. Rookie Justin Herbert in the Superdome? Come on.
Week 6 - Bye Week
It was nice having a later bye week last year, but we're back to the earlier season break this season.
Week 7 - vs. Carolina Panthers | Win
Teddy Bridgewater returns to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to battle his old team, but it won't be a happy ending. It will be something to see how good the reception is for Bridgewater, however.
Week 8 - at Chicago Bears | Win
The Saints-Bears game last year was perplexing. Mitch Trubisky was horrible, and there's really no other way to put it. Chicago could either be decent turning to Nick Foles or be in the abyss with Trubisky. Either way, New Orleans with Brees under center this time will still get the job.
Week 9 - at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NBC) | Loss
Your second helping of Brady vs. Brees gets to happen on Sunday Night Football. Normally, this is a game where Saints fans turn out something fierce. It's hard to say that it happens this year, but it's not impossible. Regardless, if there's one division opponent I'd expect the Saints to split with in a meaningful game, it'd be the Bucs.
Week 10 - vs. San Francisco 49ers | Win
This was one of the most entertaining games of 2019, and it's a shame that the amazing Drew Brees performance didn't end in a victory. Last year's game also saw an insane amount of red in the stands, and with the Saints making a more concerted effort on cracking down on who buys up the season tickets, it should be a lot harder for San Francisco to pull off a repeat.
Week 11 - vs. Atlanta Falcons | Win
Last year's home matchup saw the Falcons fresh off their bye to upset the Saints 26-9. In a stroke of luck, they'll get New Orleans again after their Week 10 bye. New Orleans won't split the series this year with Atlanta.
Week 12 - at Denver Broncos | Win
The Saints haven't beat the Broncos since 1994, losing five straight to them. They're 0-3 under Sean Payton, losing in 2008, 2012, and most recently 2016 on the forever controversial two-point block return. The Broncos are a tough team to figure out, but the youth movement figures to pay off for them. It could go either way, but we'll take the Saints to break the streak.
Week 13 - at Atlanta Falcons | Win
Could the Saints wrap up the NFC South early again? Probably not by this point in the season with heightened competition expected from both Atlanta and Tampa Bay. However, a big victory in Atlanta would put the Saints in control of their own destiny to win the division.
Week 14 - at Philadelphia Eagles | Win
Mid-December in Philadelphia sounds like a beautiful game in the making. Somehow, we'll get roped in to the whole 2017 playoff game talk, and then the 2018 games will come to the surface. Either way, the Saints have been killer against the Eagles since 2009. Let's add another one here.
Week 15 - vs. Kansas City Chiefs | Loss
Patrick Mahomes in the Dome sounds incredible, and it's sure to get the top draw of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo from the CBS late kickoff spot. It will end up being last year's 49ers game going back and forth, and it's hard to pick against Kansas City as of right now.
Week 16 - vs. Minnesota Vikings (Christmas) | Win
There's just no telling what implications this game will have on the playoff picture, but you can be assured it will have some. The regular season games against the Vikings don't bother many, it's the playoffs. The Saints will get some sort of revenge here.
Week 17 - at Carolina Panthers | Loss
This figures to be a game where the new NFL playoff format will really be paid attention to. By this point, the belief would be that the Saints are in the best position possible to have the only first-round bye of the playoffs with tiebreakers on their side. Of course, that's annoyingly optimistic. Should New Orleans not be in that position and possibly having the division already locked up and a higher playoff spot, then they'll rest the starters and see Teddy Bridgewater settle the score for earlier in the season.
Way Too Early 2020 Record Prediction: 12-4
The 49ers are the team getting most of the top honors as the team to beat in the NFC. Yes, they're defending conference champions, but they've lost a good bit in the offseason and have plenty of question marks. The Saints return with most of last year's roster intact. In all honesty, this is at least an 11-win team with a ceiling of 13-3. New Orleans has too much momentum carried over from last season to flop out. It could be the final Drew Brees run, and it should be a memorable one.