Saints should be in line for max amount of prime time games in 2020
The max amount of prime time games one NFL team can have in a scheduled season is five, and it feels like the New Orleans Saints are destined to be featured on the big stage for the upcoming season. In 2019, the team had four nationally televised prime time games, which was tied with the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Chargers. 10 teams received five prime time games.
Naturally, this can change with the way flexing happens across the league, but the league didn't do this last season with favorable matchups between the Saints and 49ers or the Saints and Titans. With the addition of Tom Brady, the Buccaneers are sure to go from one prime time game in 2019 to a bunch more. With two of the league's best quarterbacks set to duel twice in 2020, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Saints and Buccaneers will get some type of national spotlight, with the other game potentially featured as a top contender as America's Game of the Week on FOX.
While the NFL schedule won't drop until mid-to-late April, it's something the football world is ready for to help take their mind off the COVID-19 threat. Here's some of my predictions.
Prime Time Game Predictions
- vs. Packers - Any time you get Aaron Rodgers vs. Drew Brees, it has the potential to be a good way to close out the week or be the Sunday Night Football game. Three out of the past five matchups between these two franchises have been featured in the national spotlight. The Packers coming to The Big Easy is destined to be a key game in the season, as both were 13-3 a season ago.
- Buccaneers - The NFL hasn't been scared to put the Saints on Thanksgiving the past two seasons, as both games against the Falcons have been pretty good ones. We know the Lions and Cowboys will get the two early games, so a home game in the Superdome between Brady and Brees feels like a great way to close out Turkey Day. It also wouldn't be surprising to see the NFL throw the Saints on the road again, because that's been more the norm on Thursday games. Tampa Bay is going to be this year's Cleveland Browns.
- at Raiders - Naturally, the new stadium in Las Vegas is going to draw a lot of interest, and could be a good way to kick off Week 1 for the Monday Night Football doubleheader. Other divisional games in the AFC West will probably get more attention here, but consider this a bold wild card. Many might remember how underrated the season opener was between the two in 2016, and obviously those were two totally different teams.
- Falcons/Panthers - I'd give the edge to the Panthers because of the Teddy Bridgewater facing off against his former team angle, but Atlanta looks to be the superior threat to the Saints in the NFC South right now, even with Brady at the helm for the Bucs. Monday Night Football feels like the right setting for these two to face off later in the year with the hope of important division implications at stake.
- vs. Vikings - No matter when these two play, it's a chance to bring up the Minneapolis Miracle. Given how last season's postseason Wild Card played out, you get the sense that it's destined for another showcase. If you needed anymore evidence, the last four games between these two have all been in the national spotlight, which includes two postseason games. Seems like a no-brainer for a prime time affair.
Top Broadcast Potential on FOX or CBS
- 49ers - This game was absolutely nuts last year, and has the makings of a Joe Buck/Troy Aikman America's Game of the Week. I would love to think this gets a prime time slot, but just has that feel to it. The defending NFC Champions are likely to get the max amount of prime time games in 2020 as well, with the Packers rematch, Cowboys, at least one NFC West showdown, and Patriots game likely getting top bidding.
- Chiefs - The defending Super Bowl champions with Patrick Mahomes coming to New Orleans may not get the national spotlight, but should get some strong consideration. This matchup has Jim Nantz and Tony Romo all over it. The 2012 and 2016 matchups between the two were decided by 6 points or less, which both delivered in terms of excitement, just not favor for the Saints.
- at Bears - For the second straight season, the Saints will play the Bears at Soldier Field. This held a 3:25 p.m. slot on FOX last year as their Game of the Week, and could see a repeat. The Saints were able to come in and virtually dominate last year's meeting, as a late rally by the Bears didn't work out. It was a game where the final score didn't tell the whole story.
- at Eagles - It wasn't the greatest of seasons for Philadelphia last year, but they were able to rally and win a putrid NFC East. As a result of their finish, they drew the Saints for 2020. I'd personally be in favor for a late season prime time game between the two, as all of the prime time clashes between two have been have been played in the Superdome since 2000.
Overall, the New Orleans market typically performs outstanding with their broadcast ratings. That should only continue heading into 2020. As a reminder, here's all of the Saints opponents for the new season.