April 18, 2013

Two Road Trips Will Define 2013 Season

The Saints face a tough schedule including two difficult road trips in October and late November that will define the Saints' season.

Back-to-back weeks in Chicago and in New England in October will set the tone going into the Saints' week seven bye.  Then, the Saints play at the Falcons on a Thursday and in Seattle eleven days later on a Monday night, two prime time games that will set the Saints' playoff hopes.

Before the Saints' Thursday game in Atlanta, they play at home against the 49ers the previous Sunday, a short and difficult turnaround where the Saints will face both 2012 NFC Championship game contenders in four days.

The New Orleans Saints will open the NFL season at home against arch-rival Atlanta at noon on Sunday September 8.

The Saints will play four prime time games, including two Monday Night games, one at home against the Dolphins and one in Seattle, a Sunday night game on NBC against the Cowboys at home, and a Thursday night NFL Network game in Atlanta.

New Orleans will need to start fast with back-to-back divisional games against Atlanta and in Tampa Bay, but play three of their first four at home, with Arizona and Miami in weeks three and four.

The Saints then begin a difficult road trip in Chicago and then in New England in weeks five and six, games that are fortunately in early October and unlikely to see snow.  Tom Brady's current streak of 48 games with a touchdown pass could grow to tie Saints QB Drew Brees' NFL record 54-game streak in October, when the Saints visit the Patriots in New England.  Don't doubt that the league arranged that tasty matchup.  Should Brady tie Brees, he would have a chance to beat Brees' record the next week with an away game against the Jets.

The Saints play three straight AFC opponents in the middle of the season, wrapped around a bye.  The Saints have a bye after their trip to New England and return home on October 27 to play the Bills in their lone CBS televised game.

The Saints travel to play the Jets in the Meadowlands on November 3, another north game unlikely to see snow, a game that will match Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan against his brother, Jets head coach Rex Ryan.  That game in the Meadowlands on November 3 will be the final AFC game of the season for the Saints.

The final eight games of the season are against NFC teams, certain to figure into the Saints' 2013 playoff hopes.  Home games against the Cowboys and 49ers are followed by a quick turnaround in Atlanta against the Falcons on Thursday night, November 21.

That means the Saints will play the two teams in the 2012 NFC Championship game within five days of each other, followed by a long road trip to Seattle, another NFC playoff team from 2012.  After a long Thanksgiving break, the Saints play the Seahawks on Monday night, December 2 for their last primetime game.

The final four games are at home against the Panthers, at the road against the Rams and Panthers again, then ending the regular season at home against Tampa Bay.

All three potential snow games are early enough in the season to avoid wintry weather, a plus for the Saints.

The Saints-Dolphins Monday Night game on September 30 will be the first time ever the two teams have met on Monday night and only the 11th time in the regular season.  The last time the Saints and Dolphins met in the Superdome, Saints QB Jim Everett out-dueled Bernie Kosar.   The last time the Saints and Dolphins met in the regular season, Nick Saban led Miami into LSU's Tiger Stadium for the Saints' first "home" game in Baton Rouge.

The Saints have will play in a Monday Night Football game for the ninth straight season in 2013, the longest streak in team history.

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