Early portion of Saints schedule provides a daunting look
From the year long suspension of head coach Sean Payton to the now infamous non-pass interference call, many thousands of Saints fans will go to their graves believing the NFL has it out for their club.
Me? Not so much.
However, I did a double-take when the Saints schedule for 2019 was released.
The opener is on a Monday night at home against the reigning AFC South champion Houston Texans.
Then back to back Sundays at the Los Angeles Rams and at the Seattle Seahawks.
So, the first three games are against two division winners and a Seattle team that reached the playoffs with 10 victories. The Saints’ first three opponents won a total of 34 regular season games in 2018.
In weeks two and three, the Saints, if they choose to return home after the Rams game, will fly a total of 7,516 miles on two west coast trips.
On the NFL’s opening Sunday, the Rams will play at Carolina.
So, let’s say Rams vs Panthers ends at 4 p.m. Eastern time, 1 p.m. Pacific time.
The Rams will have approximately 168 hours, a full week to get ready for the Saints.
If Texans-Saints ends at 9:30 pm Central time Monday, it will be 7:30 pm Pacific time. The Saints will have approximately 140 hours before they play the Rams in Los Angeles.
In other words, the Rams will have a full 28 hours more to regroup.
It is only week two, but on that week the Los Angeles Rams will have a huge advantage over the Saints.
After two tough weeks, the Saints have to go back out to the West Coast to play Seattle seven days later.
September has always proven to be quite a barometer for NFL teams. Each year, the stats for teams that start the season 0-2 are displayed on network broadcasts throughout the NFL. The numbers, to make the playoffs for 0-2 teams is not pretty.
However, in 2017, the Saints’ 0-2 start was mis-leading.
New Orleans opened the season with a Monday night loss at Minnesota. A week later, the Saints lost at home to the New England Patriots.
Next, the Saints had to travel to Carolina and then go directly to London for a game the following Sunday against the Dolphins.
New Orleans won both of those and were 2-2 before the bye. Next came six more consecutive wins on the way to winning the NFC South title.
Two years later, the Saints are in much the same predicament, maybe even worse. Yet, the same thing can be said now as it was in 2017.
If the Saints survive and even thrive in September, they could be on the way to a very big year.
In the meantime, the conspiracy theorists, who also double as Saints fans, have plenty to talk about.
When it comes to scheduling, for the second time in three seasons, the Saints have been handed a substantial challenge right out of the gates.
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WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM
Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…