Saints 2019 Schedule’s Biggest Challenges: September to Remember and November NFC South “Gauntlet”

Photo by Wyatt Vaughn, JRNOLA

The 2019 regular season schedule for the New Orleans Saints features two very distinctive challenges for the team to overcome this year as they seek another shot at getting to the Super Bowl.

The first challenge for the Black and Gold will be a 4-game stretch in the opening month of the season (September) against Playoff teams from last season.

That will be followed by an additional challenge for New Orleans later in the season as they’ll be faced with playing all three of their fellow NFC South Division opponents (including Atlanta twice) in a 4-week “gauntlet” of games during the month of November that immediately follows their middle-of-the-season Bye Week (Week #9).

Besides those two most obvious challenges, the Saints — who will make a grand total of four nationally-televised “prime time” appearances this upcoming season — will play several other games of interest, which could potentially impact their overall status and chances at success. The most notable is at Soldier Field in Chicago during a nationally-televised late Sunday afternoon contest against the defending NFC North Division champion Bears in Week #7.

New Orleans will face their first challenge right at the start of the season when they host the defending AFC South Division champion Houston Texans on ESPN Monday Night Football at home inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 9th. That contest will be followed by back-to-back road games on the West Coast, the first of which is the highlight match-up of their entire regular season schedule in Week #2.

That’s when they’ll fly to Southern California to face their long-time conference rivals and the defending NFC Champions, the Los Angeles Rams; the same team that they were beaten by in controversial fashion that ultimately prevented the Saints from getting to the Super Bowl just a few months ago.

The long-anticipated rematch against the Rams will be followed by another flight a week later, this time to the Pacific Northwest to face the always-dangerous Seattle Seahawks. The month of September will finally end with the Black and Gold facing a 4th consecutive Playoff team from last season, when they’ll host the defending NFC East Division champion Dallas Cowboys on NBC Sunday Night Football on September 29th.

The Saints’ Bye Week comes at the midpoint of the season in Week #9, which will be a great time for the team get refreshed before they embark on a stretch of four consecutive games against all three of their fellow NFC South Division opponents in 18 days:  the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Photo by Phillip Petty III, JRNOLA

The Saints will host their hated archrivals the Falcons at home in Week #10, before traveling to Tampa, Florida to face the Buccaneers in Week #11. That will be followed by a home game against the Panthers in Week #12, and then the brutal stretch of divisional games finally comes to an end a few days later on Thanksgiving Night — when New Orleans travels to Atlanta to face the Falcons for the 2nd time in four weeks.

The Saints return home for a pair of home games at the Superdome in Weeks #14 and #15 against the San Francisco 49ers and the Indianapolis Colts (their other Monday Night game of the year), before ending the season with back-to-back road trips to Nashville, Tennessee (vs. the Titans in Week #16) and Charlotte, North Carolina (vs, the Panthers in Week #17).

All in all, the upcoming 2019 schedule for New Orleans will likely prove to be very challenging at times, without any doubt.

But for a Saints team that will return most of the same lineup that was essentially only one controversial play away from making it to the Super Bowl, and that most certainly has gotten even better in some key areas since that time, they’re capable of putting up another double-digit-win season.

Photo by Phillip Petty III, JRNOLA

However make no mistake about this: no one ever promised them that it was going to be easy — not by any means.

And in order for them to get back to where they were just a few months ago with hope to have an opportunity to finally win that elusive 2nd Super Bowl title?

The Saints first will have to get through a ‘September to Remember’, and then somehow manage to survive the November NFC South “gauntlet.”

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.


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