Gather round as we look at each week of the New Orleans Saints 2017 Season Schedule.
The Saints will not play a team coming off of a bye week this season.
Week 1: Traveling up to Minnesota will be a good test for the 2017 Saints team. Teddy Bridgewater may not be back as the starter for the Viking which means Sam Bradford will lead the team in week one. The Saints will see alums Tom Johnson and Khai Forbath in action. The Vikings were 8 and 8 last year; falling down in the second half of the season after a promising start. Vikings head coach, Mike Zimmer, is a player’s coach, and his guys will play hard for him. If the Saints round up into a better team defensively, there is every reason to expect they can walk away a winner from this game.
Week 2: New England visits New Orleans, and it will be the dome coming for Brandin Cooks. Perhaps, there will be a little bit of drama if Malcolm Butler signs with the Saints. Nevertheless, this will be a tough game for the Saints–playing against the Super Bowl champions. It must be remembered, though, each NFC South team will play the Patriots, and if each team loses to New England, the game will be a net neutral game in the advancing in the division. Atlanta will have a bye week, and then host Miami before traveling to New England to play the Patriots. Carolina will play them in Foxborough after having played at San Francisco, hosting Buffalo, and hosting the Saints. Tampa Bay will play them at home after playing at Miami, hosting Chicago, playing in Minnesota, and hosting the New York Giants. None of these dynamics bode well for any other NFC South team to win against the Patriots.
Week 3: The team will travel to Carolina who will have played at San Francisco and hosted Buffalo. This will be the best indicator of the Saints 2017 team caliber. A divisional opponent provides opportunities to play well given a built up knowledge base of the team and coach. The Saints do have Cam Newton’s number and can dominate him if the defense comes to play. It is the offense that is often at a disadvantage in these games. If the Saints can manage to score, they may squeak out a win.
Week 4: Travel to England to play Miami. The Dolphins have some brilliant players who can shine individually and often play well together. I am not, however, a big believer in Tannehill. I would expect the Saints to win this game. This will also be the third travel game in a row for the Dolphins who will have played against the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Jets in their respective cities.
Week 5: BYE week. Although this bye week comes early and is diminished by the London travel, it should be noted Atlanta has its bye this week as well. Both Carolina and Tampa have their bye weeks in Week 11.
Week 6: Saints host Detroit, and Jim Caldwell has never forgiven Sean Payton for the Super Bowl win. Nor is it likely the team has forgotten the Super Dome losses in the past. Expect the Lions to come to play. They will have hosted Arizona, played the Giants in New York, hosting Atlanta, played at Minnesota, and hosted Carolina before playing the Saints. The Lions always remind me of the Saints in the makeup of the team. There are some awesome players in Detroit. This will be a hard fought battle and perhaps the bye week will help the Saints to win. But if our defense does not play better, I am expecting a very tough game, and our offense truly struggled against the defense of the Lions last year.
Week 7: Saints travel to Green Bay. The Packers schedule will be full before they host the Saints in late October. Green Bay would have played Seattle, at Atlanta, hosted the Bengals and Chicago, traveled to Dallas, then Minnesota. It is a tough schedule for these perennial winners of the NFC north. Again, this team reminds me so much of the Saints, and there is always the revenge factor of Sean Payton against the Packers for not selecting him. If the Saints team has taken good shape–and I mean really good shape by now–it should a hard fought but even battle and may be the beginning of a good stretch of the season for the Saints.
Week 8: Saints host Chicago. Chicago will be playing for the first time in many years without Jay Cutler. The Bears were 3 and 13 last year despite John Fox’s and Ryan Pace’s best efforts. I fully expect Mike Glennon to play great football but it will not be enough to carry the team. My feeling is the Saints will win this one at home.
Week 9: The Saints will stay home another week and host divisional opponent Tampa Bay. Tampa’s schedule coming into this contest is at Miami, host Chicago, at Minnesota, host the Giants and then New England, at Arizona, at Buffalo, and then host Carolina. They will be ready to win this game as their schedule is tough coming into this contest. Last year, these teams split the series. However, the Saints cannot afford to lose any of the NFC games this year and especially not to a divisional opponent. I think the Saints win this one if they can contain Gerald McCoy.
Week 10: Travel to Buffalo. Nothing about Buffalo excites me. It will be cold there in early November. I would expect the Saints to win this one; but if they drop to a AFC team, it is not the worst outcome.
Week 11: The Saints will host Washington. The Redskins have two great corners in Norman and Simon which will make life difficult but not impossible for Drew Brees. Foster and Cravens will block up the middle. But hopefully, this game will not see the return of Junior Galette; although it will be great to see the return of Rufus Johnson. Kirk Cousins can do some great things, and it will be fun to see Fat Rob back in New Orleans. This will be a great game, and one the Saints will need to win if they expect to see the post season. But Washington will have had a tough schedule before this game having hosted the Eagles, traveled to the Rams, hosted Oakland, played at Kansas City, hosted the 49ers, played at Philadelphia, hosted Dallas, played at Seattle, and hosted Minnesota. That is a tough schedule, and they may come limping into the Dome.
Week 12: The Saints travel to Los Angeles to play the Rams who would like revenge from last year. But the Rams have a woeful offense and yet are brilliant on defense. It will be fun to see the growth of Tyrunn Walker. Will Gurley and Goff carry the day? Not likely. The Saints should win if they can outwit the defense. The LA Rams will have had some tough games before they play the Saints–having played Dallas, Seattle, the Giants and Houston.
Week 13 host Carolina; Week 14 at Atlanta; Week 15 host New York Jets; Week 16 host Atlanta; and Week 17 at Tampa Bay: This starts the “must win” stretch of the season for the Saints as four of the five last games in the season are against divisional rivals. The odd game out is an AFC contest with the New York Jets. As you can see below, Atlanta faces the toughest schedule of all given their success last season. The Saints will play the Falcons twice in a three-week window. The team at this juncture will either be flowing or limping along–either a stand out in the division or playing for a wild card spot. This exciting time comes as Drew Brees contemplates his immediate future and it is beginning to dawn on all of us we may not have him next season. All of which will make for an intense season end.