You know the NFL’s popularity is out of control when something as innocuous as the release of the upcoming season’s schedule is an event. Nowhere is that truer than in the Big Easy where New Orleans Saints’ fans have been talking about the 2014 schedule ever since the Black and Gold fell to the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs. Once again, the NFL must believe that the Saints will be an exciting, successful team in 2014 as evidenced by their five primetime games. Take a closer look the Saints’ five primetime games in 2014.
Sunday, September 28: New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys (NBC)
Despite the Cowboys no longer being a serious contender heading into 2014, you can always count on the NFL putting America’s Team in primetime a number of times each season. The talking point of this game will be the return of Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to Dallas. Also, Dallas fans still harbor dreams of Saints head coach Sean Payton coaching the Cowboys someday. New Orleans has won eight of its last nine games versus Dallas.
Sunday, October 26: Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints (NBC)
With the emergence of the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the NFC, some experts believe that contenders such as the Packers and Saints are losing ground to these teams. However, the Packers and Saints will have an opportunity to showcase their wares in a primetime meeting in New Orleans. Although the Saints have struggled against the Packers in recent years, New Orleans has won 11 straight regular season primetime games at home.
Thursday, October 30: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (NFL Network)
After the Atlanta Falcons got off to a rough start last season, the Saints looked like they would cruise towards the NFC South title. However, the Panthers refused to lose and they somehow won the division. In the past, regardless of how the Panthers have fared against the rest of the NFL, Cam Newton has usually given the Saints fits. No NFC South team has ever won the division two years in a row, as the Panthers will try to prove that 2013 wasn’t a fluke.
Monday, November 24: Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints (ESPN)
New Orleans doesn’t make its 2014 Monday night debut until late November. The Ravens don’t have much history with the Saints, but new WR Steve Smith has quite a resume of great plays, physical altercations, and trash talking against New Orleans as a Panther. Although Smith hasn’t promised “blood and guts” for this primetime game in New Orleans, safeties Jairus Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro will be happy to welcome him back to the Superdome.
Monday, December 15: New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears (ESPN)
Ever since Bears’ fans were less than hospitable to Saints’ fans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Chicago has become one of the most hated teams in the NFL for New Orleans. Unfortunately, this primetime game in mid-December has the potential to be a cold weather disaster for New Orleans. However, the Saints proved they could win in the cold in last year’s playoffs and New Orleans should be a confident team in the Windy City.
My greatest disappointment with the 2014 schedule is that the home game against the 49ers is not in primetime. San Francisco has always been one of New Orleans’ biggest rivals and these teams’ hatred of each other is at the boiling point once again. The 49ers complained and whined far too much after losing to the Saints last year and nothing would make people in New Orleans happier than if San Francisco loses in the Superdome in 2014 in primetime.
More from this contributor
Top 5 New Orleans Saints head coaches in history
Predictions for the 2013 New Orleans Saints season
Top 5 New Orleans Saints quarterbacks in history
Game summary of Super Bowl 48
The glory of the Saints