The New Orleans Saints have known their preseason schedule for about a week now after the NFL released the official 2013 preseason schedule after forcing fans everywhere to wait until a specific deadline.
We broke the official list of opponents for New Orleans this preseason here after the NFL announced every matchup. Now it’s time to take a closer look at each matchup and figure out what is in store for the Saints, as well as what to watch for as an indicator of how the regular season could play out.
Preseason Week 1: vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs haven’t met in the preseason since 1997. That changes this preseason as the Saints host the Chiefs at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The contest will mark the debut of new Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, who is taking over the NFL’s worst scoring offense from a year ago. He has a new franchise quarterback after trading for Alex Smith, and will likely have a new franchise offensive tackle in Luke Joeckel thanks to the team holding the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Barring a trade out of the first pick, the revamped offensive line in Kansas City will be a good first test for the new 3-4 defense in New Orleans. Guys like Junior Galette and Victor Butler will have to prove early that they can generate pressure on a consistent basis. Elite running back Jamaal Charles will also provide a challenge to what was the worst statistical defense in NFL history a year ago.
Ultimately, New Orleans will be looking for revenge on the Chiefs after losing 27-24 in overtime last season.
Preseason Week 2: vs. Oakland Raiders
The New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders have never met in the preseason in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but that’ll change in Week 2 of the 2013 preseason.
Oakland is a tough team to figure out, with the draft likely figuring to change the complexion of the team massively in the next few weeks. Gone is Carson Palmer, and in is former Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback Matt Flynn. It’s hard to tell if the change will prevent the Raiders from selecting a quarterback such as Geno Smith with the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
For the Saints, it’s going to be a nice game to get some quality practice on both sides of the football. The Raiders are one of the worst teams in all areas thanks to a previous regime running the roster into the ground.
New Orleans lambasted the Raiders last season to the tune of 38-17. Don’t expect much different this time around.
Preseason Week 3: at Houston Texans
The New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans are what you could call familiar with each other. Since 2008, the two teams have met every preseason. The series is split, 3-3.
Week 3 of the preseason is the game in which every NFL team plays its starters the longest, so expect to see the Saints’ starters for at least the duration of the first half in what is a nationally televised contest.
Houston hasn’t lost much this offseason outside of the replaceable Connor Barwin. It has added veteran safety Ed Reed to the mix. As always, the Houston secondary will be a great test for Drew Brees and the high-flying Saints offense.
Arian Foster and Andre Johnson will prove to be a major test for Rob Ryan’s new 3-4 scheme. New cornerback Keenan Lewis is going to have his hands full with Johnson, while the linebackers will once more have to prove it can generate consistent pressure against one of the NFL’s top lines.
This is a matchup that will foreshadow much of how the 2013 season will go for New Orleans. The Texans figure to be Super-Bowl contenders and have a great squad on paper. Pay close attention to this one.
Preseason Week 4: at Miami Dolphins
The New Orleans Saints stay on the road in preseason Week 4 to take on the free-agency winning Miami Dolpins(not that the title has ever amounted to much of anything).
Miami holds a 13-7 advantage all-time in the preseason over the Saints, and the two teams are slated to meet in the regular season as well.
Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill has a new weapon in Mike Wallace, so how the New Orleans secondary reacts, led by corner Keenan Lewis, will be something to keep an eye on while the starters are actually in the game.
Miami also has a revamped defense thanks to additions such as Dannell Ellerbe. The matchup should serve as a quality final tune-up game for Drew Brees and Co.
All in all, the preseason matchups should be a good indicator of the massive changes going on in New Orleans, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Pay close attention to the last two matchups. They should ultimately show how close the Saints are to contending once more.