The New Orleans Saints battle for the NFC South won’t begin until December 3
By Dean Mullen
The schedule for 2017 is extremely tough for the Saints in the first six weeks and the Black and Gold have four of their last five games within the NFC South Division.
There is a tiny little gap in this year’s schedule that could allow the team some room to breathe. After the first six weeks of grinding in 2017, the Saints have a softer and friendlier stretch in November. Actually, October 29th starts a string of five games that has to be marked as “must win.” On October 29th, the Saints get to play the Chicago Bears at home.
The Bears were 3-13 last season and will struggle to find three wins this year. On November 5th, the Saints get the toughest of that five game stretch with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. That division game comes two months after playing Carolina in Week 3 on September 24th. No doubt, a huge gap in between.
After Tampa, there’s no reason the Saints can’t win the next three games. The Saints get Buffalo, Washington, and the Los Angeles Rams. Incidentally, two of those three games are on the road. But there’s no other part of the schedule that is going to be nicer. The two road teams combined for a 7-25 record in 2016.
Above all, that stretch ends right before the meat of the NFC South schedule begins for the Black and Gold. The Saints play four crucial division games from December 3rd-December 31st. Strangely enough, they could be 10-1 or 9-2 coming into this divisional stretch, yet still miss the playoffs entirely.
The NFC South Division race won’t really get going til December from the Saints point of view. They don’t play Atlanta till Dec. 7th on a Thursday night game in Prime Time. This gives them only four days after playing Carolina at home on Dec. 3rd. Two critical division games in a matter of four days! That seems a little unfair.
Also, the Saints play Atlanta two weeks later on Christmas Eve. Additionally there is another little quinky dink that comes with this setup. All the division games are obviously NFC games too. This could be an eventual tie-breaker for a Wild Card berth.
The setup for the 2017 schedule makes things a bit challenging. Perhaps as a whole, the teams on the schedule won’t strike fear into the collective hearts of Who Dat Nation. However, it’s the timing of these games that are the ultimate challenge.