With training camp and preseason well underway, Last Word on Pro Football is analyzing the schedules of all 32 NFL teams. Each team’s 16-game slate will be split into its most difficult (1-8) and easiest games (9-16). For this article, the New Orleans Saints most difficult games of their 2019 schedule are the focus.
New Orleans Saints Most Difficult Games of 2019
1. Week Three: at Seattle Seahawks
CenturyLink Field in Seattle is one of the loudest and most electrifying atmospheres in the league. The Saints have historically struggled in their past trips to Seattle. Under Sean Payton, the Saints have only beaten the Seahawks in Seattle once, which was 2007. The Saints probably have one of the toughest first four games in the NFL, so getting a win against a solid team in a loud environment would be a huge momentum boost for the Saints.
2. Week Seven: at Chicago Bears
On paper, the Chicago Bears are a legit Super Bowl contender. They have a dominant pass rusher in Khalil Mack, a thriving young quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, and a great coach in Matt Nagy. Soldier Field is a tough place to play, no matter what time of the year. Luckily for the Saints, they will play the Bears before it gets ridiculously cold in Chicago. Both teams will use this game as a measuring stick, because if the Saints can’t neutralize the Bears pass rush, it will be a long day for Drew Brees and company.
3. Week Two: at. Los Angeles Rams
The missed call of the century. The call that cost the Saints a Super Bowl appearance. It has been well documented since that fateful Sunday in January. The media will play up this rematch of the NFC Championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints. But in reality, both teams will approach it like their previous match-ups, and it is likely to go down to the wire if history tells us anything. Hopefully a blown call doesn’t decide the outcome of this game.
4. Week Four: vs. Dallas Cowboys
This is a big game for the Saints, because this will be the fourth game in a row to start the season against a playoff team. The Cowboys are another team with a stout defense, but their defense is fairly young. Plus, Ezekiel Elliot‘s status with the team is still in their air. The Saints have to be careful of an emotional letdown if they are able to beat the Rams and Seahawks in consecutive weeks. Dak Prescott did not play well against the Saints last season, but that was before Amari Cooper arrived. If the Saints can score some points, and the Cowboys are still missing Zeke, this game could spell disaster for the Cowboys. Not to mention how difficult it is to beat the Saints in the Dome in prime time.
5. Week 13: at Atlanta Falcons
Thanksgiving Day between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. Nothing can compare to the hate between these two fanbases. The Saints are sure to hear and see many images of the NOLA No-Call, while Saints fans continue to troll the Falcons with 28-3 jokes. But this game should provide plenty of fireworks like the first match-up did last season in an overtime thriller. Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are a formidable duo for the Falcons, while the Saints boast Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. These inter-division rivalries tend to matter especially later in the season when playoff spots are on the line.
6. Week 15: vs. Indianapolis Colts
This is the second-ever matchup between Andrew Luck and Drew Brees. The Indianapolis Colts have not beat the Saints since 2007. This should be a fun, late in the season Monday Night Football game between two top-five quarterbacks in the NFL. Last season, the Colts were a team that surprised everyone. If both teams are healthy, this could be a potential Super Bowl preview if the Colts defense continues to improve.
7. Week 12: vs. Carolina Panthers
This game begins a stretch of two games in five days for the Saints. The Carolina Panthers are coming back with a vengeance this year after losing seven games down the stretch after starting 6-2. If Cam Newton is healthy, and his new throwing motion holds true, this game could go down to the wire. The Panthers have struggled against the Saints the last two seasons, but one player who hasn’t is Christian McCaffrey. Like Alvin Kamara, McCaffrey poses issues for opposing linebackers. He will be key in this game.
8. Week One: vs. Houston Texans
This game seems to get more hype than warranted. The Houston Texans have a solid defense, but their offensive line allowed franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson to be sacked 62 times last season. And the Texans didn’t make drastic off-season moves to correct it, plus this will be Watson’s first time in the Dome in his career. Granted, he has played on the big stage before, but if the Dome gets rocking and Watson isn’t protected, the game could get out of hand quickly. The Saints are 1-2 against the Texans under Sean Payton.