The 2017 Saints schedule has been released at long last. If you are like me, you have already begun circling games on the calendar and dreaming about which ones you would love to attend. (Week two against New England anyone?) The 2017 schedule makers didn’t do the Saints any favors early in their quest to make their way back to the playoffs and become relevant in the national NFL conversation.
With that said, each season brings unique storylines based on the ever-changing personnel and coaching staffs of the NFL. The 2017 Saints schedule is no different as the Saints will come face to face with many figures from the past. Here are some of the more intriguing ghosts from the past with which our boys in Black and Gold will come face to face.
2017 Saints Schedule: Week 2 vs. New England Patriots (Home)
Even if the Saints don’t manage to finalize a deal that brings them cornerback Malcolm Butler, the return of Brandin Cooks to the Superdome still makes this must-watch television. The end of the Brandin Cooks era in New Orleans was bizarre, to say the least, and many fans feel the Saints got fleeced in the draft haul they received for the talented speedster. No doubt, Cooks will be out to prove something to the Saints in this contest. Can you imagine the reaction from Who Dat Nation if Cooks scores a touchdown and breaks out his signature bow and arrow celebration?
Bringing in Malcolm Butler would only add to the intrigue as he will likely be tasked with covering Cooks. Mano a mano, the Saints would get an early indicator as to which team won the trade. Aside from that, there’s always the draw of watching two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks duel it out in the Superdome. If the Saints could somehow come out on top in this one, it would send a message to the rest of the NFL and could set the tone for the remainder of the year.
**Fun fact, the last time New Orleans beat New England in the Superdome was 2009, the year the Saints won the Super Bowl.**
2017 Saints Schedule: Weeks 3 and 13 vs. Carolina Panthers (Away/Home)
Lately, Saints vs. Panthers games have been thrilling simply because these teams are divisional rivals. However, this season there will be even more fuel added to the fire. The Saints raided the Panthers during free agency this offseason, signing speedy wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. and inside linebacker A.J. Klein. Both are projected to be a big part of the 2017 Saints. Going up against their former teams, you can bet they will be motivated.
Last season, the Saints split against the Panthers, winning in the Superdome but falling short on Thursday Night Football in Carolina. Coming off a tough opening at Minnesota and then at home against the Patriots, it’s possible that the Saints head to Charlotte desperately seeking a win.
2017 Saints Schedule: Week 7 vs. Green Bay Packers (Away)
When Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers face off at Lambeau, the games can be riveting. Just look back at the 2011 contest. The Saints fell short 34-42 as then-rookie Mark Ingram was stuffed at the goal line as time expired.
The good news is that this game is scheduled to take place in October, so the tundra at Lambeau shouldn’t be frozen yet. Aaron Rodgers will no doubt stress and test whatever improvements the Saints make on the defensive side of the ball this offseason. Can the Saints avenge their 2011 heartbreak? Time will tell, but if the Saints can turn back the hands of time, they might be on track to a historic season.
2017 Saints Schedule: Week 8 vs. Chicago Bears (Home)
The Bears have the third overall pick in the NFL draft and were one of the worst teams in football last year. What could be intriguing about this matchup? For starters, some familiar faces will be present in New Orleans during this week.
Ryan Pace is the current GM of the Bears, but he was formerly the player personnel director for the Saints. It will be interesting to see if his blueprint builds up the Bears for their current spot among the league’s worst. Additionally, the Bears signed quarterback Mike Glennon during free agency. Saints fans might remember him as he started some games for division opponents the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The animosity might be absent in this contest, but the history is still there.
2017 Saints Schedule: Week 11 vs. Washington Redskins (Home)
This game is mostly intriguing because it will mark Junior Galette’s return to the Superdome. Since he was released and signed by the Redskins, Gallett has torn his achilles twice. Actually, he has yet to take the field for them during the season. It’s clear that there is no love lost between Galette and his former team. Just look at this tweet.
Clearly, there will be some chippiness this week.
2017 Saints Schedule: Weeks 14 and 16 vs. Atlanta Falcons (Away/Home)
There’s no other way to end a preview like this except with the Saints archrivals the Atlanta Falcons. Last season, the Falcons got the best of the Saints, sweeping them en route to a Super Bowl appearance. Saints fans watched with glee as the Falcons blew the biggest Super Bowl lead in history. The two fan bases have been trading barbs and insults ever since.
The downside is that we will have to wait to near the end of the year to settle the dispute on the field. On the other hand, the fact that they don’t play until week 14 means that when they finally do, the game could have huge playoff implications and will likely go a long way towards deciding the NFC South Champion.
All in all, the 2017 Saints schedule is filled with intrigue and subplots. But 2017 will be judged on if the Saints make the playoffs. All the rest is just noise.