A quick look at the 2013 regular season schedule for the New Orleans Saints and fans should be fairly happy. Looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2012 following the fallout from the Bounty Gate Scandal, the Saints schedule looks almost as if there were some kind of divine intervention on their half.
New Orleans drew what appears to be a particularly easy schedule this season, with only four opponents having made the playoffs last year — the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. Another notable opponent is the Chicago Bears, who missed the playoffs last season but still had a 10-win season.
I have no doubt that division games against the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be tough, competitive games. But the first real test of the regular season will begin in Week 1, when New Orleans hosts Atlanta.
For several years, New Orleans would beat Atlanta and found success where the Falcons couldn’t. Last year the roles reversed, New Orleans suffered a disappointing 7-9 season while the Falcons made it to the NFC championship game. However, New Orleans did manage to split one win and one loss with Atlanta in the regular season.
If New Orleans wants to be taken seriously in the rest of the league, they must put up against Atlanta and knock them down a peg or two. The Falcons are favorites by many to at least return to the NFC champion game again, and with their group of talent, it’s a distinct possibility.
The Saints must win their season opener and send a message to the NFL that they’re back.