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Assessing the toughest opponents on the Saints 2021 schedule

Assessing the toughest opponents on the Saints 2021 schedule

Last Wednesday, the New Orleans Saints 2021 regular-season schedule was finally released to the public. Despite losing future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees to retirement and many impact players, the league still recognizes the Saints as a top rating draw in the National Football League. New Orleans will be featured in five primetime matchups during the 2021 regular season.

This year’s willingness to feature the Saints in so many marquee games shows their respect for Head Coach Sean Payton. Payton has demonstrated that he is highly capable of fielding a competitive team without the presence of Drew Brees under center.

But those who are closely within Saints circles will tell you that the team still has holes to fill in certain positions, especially at cornerback. If the proper moves are not made between now or when the season starts, those primetime matchups could become one-sided affairs that will not play in the Saints’ favor. Let’s take a look at five of the toughest matchups on the Saints 2021 regular season and see how the current roster as constructed would fare against those opponents.

1. Green Bay Packers: Week 1, September 12

In a rematch from last year’s Week 3 defeat in the Superdome, the Saints open the season at home versus the Green Bay Packers. In last season’s matchup against Green Bay, Alvin Kamara had one of his best games of the year. He accounted for a career-high 193 total yards from scrimmage, 139 receiving yards.

Despite the rumors of Aaron Rodgers possibly being traded before the season starts, be prepared for the Saints to be going against the reigning league MVP. Hopefully, the defense will learn from last year’s miscues regarding rattling Green Bay’s offense.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Week 8 and 15, October 31/December 19

Sean Payton currently has a 4-0 record against Bucs Head Coach Bruce Arians during the regular season. But when it mattered the most, Arians had the last laugh. In 2020, the Saints swept eventual Super Bowl Champion the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in regular-season games. It was a different tune after the Bucs were able to gain momentum due to a Jared Cook fumble that occurred in the divisional round matchup.

Tampa would win 30-20 and play the following week in the NFC Championship Game against Green Bay. Coach Payton has the formula to take down the Buccaneers and their plethora of weapons. But will we see the same type of production against Tampa Bay with inexperienced personnel playing at certain positions?

3. Seattle Seahawks: Week 7, October 25

When the Seattle Seahawks were at their peak, they were a team that became a difficult matchup for the Saints. In 2013, New Orleans was defeated by Seattle in the regular season, followed up by the second time once the playoffs started. You also cannot forget about the infamous “Beast Quake Run” that ended the Saints Super Bowl title defense in 2010. Seattle no longer has the elite defense that allowed them to appear in back-to-back Super Bowls, but they have gotten better in other areas.

The Seahawks finally have many weapons that can take the pressure off of their quarterback Russell Wilson. The matchup against Seattle doesn’t bode well for the Saints, especially if Marshon Lattimore is suspended due to an off-the-field incident in April.

4. Buffalo Bills: Week 12, November 25

It seems that the teams that New Orleans obliterated in the past have gotten significantly better. The Buffalo Bills are no different. In 2017, the Saints smashed the Bills 47-10. It was one of those types of games that showed Payton’s innovative style as a head coach. Fast forward to 2021 where things have changed. Since the 47-10 beatdown by the Saints, Buffalo has appeared in the playoffs in three out of the last four seasons.

An AFC Championship Game is included in those three playoff trips as well. New Orleans will also be facing a familiar face in Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs is the man that put an end to the Saints’ Super Bowl aspirations in the 2018 divisional-round matchup when he was a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

5. Dallas Cowboys: Week 13, December 2

The Saints matchup against the Dallas Cowboys will be the second game that will feature New Orleans playing in a primetime setting. Recently, the Cowboys have been a difficult opponent for the Saints regardless of which players are on the roster. By this time, we should know if New Orleans is bound for a playoff berth or preparing for the future. 

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Photo courtesy of the USA Today.

Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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