Saints 2019 schedule preview: Most likely candidates for primetime

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Saints at Cowboys
(Photo: Stephen Lew)

The NFL announced its preseason schedule last week, and the league’s annual selection meeting – a k a the NFL Draft – is next week.

The league revealed Tuesday morning it will announce the regular-season schedule Wednesday night.

Coming off a season that was oh-so-close to ending in the Super Bowl, the Saints figure to have a strong chance of landing the league’s maximum five primetime appearances.

But against whom? Here’s one opinion on the Saints’ best chances at primetime games:

  1. Los Angeles Rams (away)
    Too easy, right? On the heels of the no-call in the NFC Championship Game in January, this undoubtedly is one of those games the networks have lobbied the league office to have on their packages for 2019. While the most logical spot would be on a Sunday night, don’t be surprised if Fox gets this game as part of their Thursday night package.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (home)
    The Cowboys may not have won a Super Bowl in more than 20 years, but they still bring the eyeballs of America to TV sets when they are playing a marquee game. The last four Saints-Cowboys games have been in primetime (Sunday night from 2013-15, Thursday night last year), and there’s no reason to expect anything differently.
  3. Atlanta Falcons (home/away)
    Five of the last seven years, one of the two Saints-Falcons games has been on a Thursday night. And in six of the seven years before that, one of the meetings was on Monday night. In other words, the odds are good one of the two games gets primetime treatment.
  4. Indianapolis Colts (home)
    Strictly a hunch here, but the 10th anniversary of their meeting in Super Bowl XLIV might make this a good Monday night candidate (as well as a good spot for the Saints to host a reunion). The NFL always loves good quarterback matchups as well, and Brees vs. Luck certainly fits that bill.
  5. Seattle Seahawks (away)
    The Saints’ last two regular-season visits to the northwest, in 2007 and 2013, both ended up in primetime.
  6. Houston Texans (home)
    While Saints-Texans has not warranted primetime treatment previously, the combination of two reigning division champions and the emergence of Deshaun Watson in Houston could make this a possibility. A good regional matchup for a Thursday night game, perhaps?
  7. Carolina Panthers (home/away)
    Last year’s game in Charlotte was on Monday night, and this matchup has gotten both Thursday and Sunday night treatment in the past.
  8. Arizona Cardinals (home)
    If the schedule is announced this week, we won’t know for sure what the Cardinals will do with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
  9. San Francisco 49ers (home)
    The history of this series – even in recent years – can make this one somewhat appealing, but there are simply better options.
  10. Tennessee Titans (away)
    Even though the Titans were a final eight team in the playoffs just two years ago, this one seems destined for the noon slot.
  11. Chicago Bears (away)
    This matchup has gotten favorable treatment from the schedule makers before, but can’t see it this year.
  12. Jacksonville Jaguars (away)
    Trying to balance out viewers of three teams in Florida could land this game in the late afternoon slot, but that’s likely as far as it goes.
  13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (home/away)
    Here’s all you need to know: Of the last 32 Saints-Bucs meetings, zero have been in primetime. Not since December 2002 has a New Orleans-Tampa Bay game been played in a slot other than Sunday afternoon.
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Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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