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Ranking the 2014 New Orleans Saints Games

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Nov 17, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) clotheslines New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) behind the line of scrimmage during the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) was called for unnecessary roughness penalty. The New Orleans Saints defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-20. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

 #5 – Baltimore Ravens (Week 12, 11/24) ‘Quoth the Who Dats, Nevermore’

The Ravens are the only team that Drew Brees has never earned a victory against. That’s right, Brees is 0-3 in his career against the Ravens (losses in 2006 & 2010 with the Saints). The Ravens also have a stranglehold on the series by only losing once in five career matchups. As a side note, four of those five matchups were in Baltimore (2006 the exception). This is a huge chance of redemption, and with Monday Night being the stage for this anticipated matchup, I fully expect a great game. The last time the Ravens were in the Superdome, they left with a Lombardi Trophy. This time around? They’ll leave with a loss.

Prediction: Saints 27, Ravens 23

#4 – Green Bay Packers (Week 8, 10/26) ‘The Big Cheesy’

The Packers have been a bit of a thorn in the Saints side in the past couple of seasons. I say that because the games have gone the exact same way in 2011 and 2012 (mind you that was Lambeau Field). In both losses, the Packers jumped out to 21-7 leads, the Saints would battle back, but fall short in the end. The history in this matchup suggests that it could be a high scoring shootout affair. This will be a really good litmus test for both sides, mainly Rob Ryan’s defense and the Aaron Rodgers led offense. The last trip to New Orleans didn’t end so well for the Cheeseheads, as they were handed a 51-29 loss in 2008. I fully expect a great battle in this primetime showdown.

Prediction: Saints 35, Packers 31

#3 – at Carolina Panthers (Week 9, 10/30) ‘Hellaween On Earth’

We’re going to know fairly quickly what kind of team the Panthers are going to field for the 2014 season in their first few weeks. Yes, the team won the NFC South last year, but the big question mark that the Panthers have yet to answer is around what type of production they’ll get from their wide receivers. Let’s also remember that it will be the first time the team faces former safety, Roman Harper. Despite this being a tough challenge on the road, I like the prime time aspect making this a good win.

Prediction: Saints 24, Panthers 13

#2 – at Atlanta Falcons (Week 1, 9/7) ‘Dirty Bird Beat Down’

I put this one so high only because it’s Atlanta, and it’s the regular season opener. I am not sold on the Falcons whatsoever. In my opinion, the team didn’t do enough to improve as much as they would have liked, and the majority of the claims around their ‘improved’ season this year are based on Julio Jones coming back. I don’t know about you, but I’d be more worried about the offensive line, and the fact that there’s no more Tony Gonzalez. Don’t you think teams will know that too? This will be the first time we see the team, and the octane should run high.

Prediction: Saints 27, Falcons 14

#1 – San Francisco 49ers (Week 10, 11/9) ‘San Francisco Treats’

For the third straight year, the Saints host the 49ers. It simply worked out that way based on scheduling formulas and such. The 2012 matchup saw the Saints falter, while the 2013 rematch saw the Saints edge the 49ers by a Garrett Hartley field goal. Now, the vast majority (especially 49ers fans) all point to the single play that ‘allowed the Saints to win’, which would be the Ahmad Brooks personal foul. This game is a great chance for everyone to just shut-up and settle the score. Not that it matters, but the Saints have won seven of the last nine matchups against the 49ers.

Prediction: Saints 24, 49ers 21

Now, based on this list, you’ll notice that I don’t give the Saints many losses this year. Let me first tell you that that doesn’t mean that I think the team will go 15-1 (I won’t complain if we do). I believe any team can win all of their games (yes, even the Jaguars). However, the reality is that the team has the potential to put up a nice 12, 13, or 14 win season. The team is just as likely to lose to the Browns as they are to the Cowboys, despite what history and track records say (see the Rams last year). The bottom line? I feel great about this season, and at the end of the day, you should too. The Saints should be back in the postseason, easily.

This year, the most brutal part of the Saints schedule could be debated based on several factors:

Four of the first six games are on the road

  • Hosting Green Bay on primetime Sunday Night Football, and then working on a short week to travel to Carolina for primetime Thursday Night Football
  • A three game home stint against tougher foes (San Francisco, Cincinnati, Baltimore)

    A three game stint against AFC North opponents (Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh)

    Three of the last four games are against NFC South opponents (two are home)

    Despite these claims, I don’t find this nearly as challenging as last year’s run of hosting Dallas, hosting San Francisco, facing Atlanta on a short week, traveling to Seattle, and then hosting Carolina at home.

    In closing, let me rewind to last season for just a minute, and let you know my feelings before the season eleven months ago:

    "Having said all of this, and I realize how early it is….12 wins is feasible, 11 seems reasonable. I can see a potential split with Atlanta (as much as that pains me to say), or another NFC South foe. Chicago, San Francisco, New England, and Seattle can go either way, as they serve as potential ‘problem’ games. Heading into 2013, we obviously don’t know where we will finish, but we can always make an educated guess given the feelings, facts, and opponents. We should look to what we have as opposed to last season too, and know that we finally have a ‘normal’ offseason going on. Sean Payton will provide the much missed leadership of last season, which will probably benefit Drew Brees the most, and Rob Ryan will help make our defense a very respectable unit at least."

    Another year of normalcy coupled with more experience makes me excited. I can’t wait until September 7th Who Dat Nation!

    Do you agree with our list? What games would you swap around? Which games are you looking forward to most?

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