Much easier second-half schedule
I’ve written about how tough the New Orleans Saints’ first five weeks are, as have many others. The brutal stretch begins opening night on a Monday in Minnesota, as the Saints take on a hungry Vikings team.
Then they have just six days to prepare to play the defending champion New England Patriots. That’s followed by two road games: at Carolina to face the Cam Newton-led Panthers and all the way across the pond to London, where they take on the feisty Dolphins.
An early — but necessary — Week 5 bye caps it off and even that carries its cons. An early bye week could spell injury or consistency issues down the line. But in retrospect, this early rest will heal the Saints up for a much more favorable final 12 games.
The last two-thirds of the season feature the Saints playing five teams that finished in the bottom 10 of the league: Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers (twice). All of those games (besides the first one against Carolina) fall on Week 7 or later.
The schedule also has New Orleans host the Redskins, Lions and Patriots, which make those games easier to win.
If the Saints could go 2-2 in their first four games, that would put them in a great position. Even going 1-3 wouldn’t wreck their chances at the playoffs. Due to such a consistently easy second-half schedule, there won’t be a hole too deep for the Saints to dig themselves out of.
It all may be hypothetical, but most signs point to the schedule being a wingman for New Orleans this season.