The NFL's schedule makers did the Saints no favors in the month when the Saints have recently had much success.
In the past three seasons, the Saints are 3-0, 3-0, and 5-0 in the month of November. Similar success will be critical to the 2012 season, when the Saints return from a Sunday night road trip in Denver to host the Eagles on Monday Night Football on November 5.
The Saints turnaround the short week at home against archrival Atlanta on November 11. Then a long road trip to Oakland on November 18 is followed by a grudge match back in the Superdome against the 49ers, where both teams will surely be fired up after last season's playoff slugfest. After the late-game kickoff against the 49ers, the Saints have a four-day turnaround for a Thursday night game in Atlanta.
That five-game stretch in November, four games against likely NFC playoff teams, will make or break the Saints' season heading into December, when the Saints play four more NFC teams, starting with a potential snow game in New York against the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants on December 9. The Saints finish the season at home against Tampa Bay, then in Dallas two days before Christmas, and finally at home against Carolina.
The Saints open the season at home against the Redskins and perhaps 2nd overall pick QB Robert Griffin III. As has been the case in past seasons, the Saints play the Panthers near the start and at the end of their season, meeting rookie of the year QB Cam Newton in Charlotte in Week 2 and at home in Week 17. The Saints return home for their lone CBS game against the Chiefs in week three, then travel to Green Bay on September 30. That's a break for the Saints, who escaped facing the frozen tundra later in the season.
The Saints make an appearance on NBC on October 7, though a late-season matchup against the Tampa Bay Bucs or against Carolina are prime for "flexing" to NBC's Sunday night time slot under the league's flexible scheduling rules.
After a week six bye, interim head coach Joe Vitt will return from his suspension and join the Saints in the middle of their 3800+ mile road trip, which starts in Tampa Bay on October 21. Vitt will be the interim head coach in Denver on October 28 on NBC Sunday Night. At the end of that road trip, the Saints begin their November gauntlet against the Eagles.
September 9 - Noon - vs Washington - FOX
September 16 - Noon - @Carolina - FOX
September 23 - Noon - vs Kansas City - CBS
September 30 - 3:15pm - @Green Bay - FOX
October 7 - 7:20pm - vs San Diego - NBC Sunday Night
Week Six Bye
October 21 - NOON - @Tampa Bay - FOX
October 28 - 7:20pm - @Denver - NBC Sunday Night
November 5 - 7:30pm - vs Philadelphia - ESPN Monday Night Football
November 11 - NOON - vs Atlanta - FOX
November 18 - 3:05pm - @Oakland - FOX
November 25 - 3:15pm - vs San Francisco - FOX
November 29 - 7:20pm - @Atlanta - NFL Network Thursday Night
December 9 - 3:15pm - @New York Giants - FOX
December 16 - NOON - vs Tampa Bay - FOX
December 23 - NOON - @Dallas - FOX
December 30 - NOON - vs Carolina - FOX
August 5 - 7pm - vs Arizona - NFL Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH, NFL Network
August 9-13 - ? - @New England
August 16-20 - ? - vs Jacksonville
August 25 - 7pm - vs Houston - CBS national broadcast
August 29-30 - ? - @Tennessee