Beyond The Mic: Top 5 Games On Saints 2019 Schedule
Following last week's NFL schedule release, New Orleans Saints fans immediately began to breakdown the 2019 schedule.
From the arduous first quarter of the season, to the perfectly timed bye week, to the divisional stretch of 4 NFC South games in 18 days, the Who Dat Nation had opinions on every aspect of the schedule.
After pondering on it for a few days, here's what I believe to be the top 5 games (on paper) on the Saints 2019 schedule (and one honorable mention) fans should do what they can to attend.
Honorable Mention - New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears, October 20th
A common misconception is the Saints rarely win at Soldier Field. New Orleans has left Chicago victorious on their last two trips, and have defeated the Bears at Solider Field 8 times in 16 regular season tries.
The truth is, it's the two playoff losses, including an NFC Championship game, that's burned into the memory of long time Saints fans.
New Orleans was only 15 months removed from Hurricane Katrina when the Saints traveled to Soldier Field for their first NFC Championship game in franchise history in January of 2007.
Some Chicago fans carried signs around that read "BEARS FINISHING WHAT KATRINA STARTED", "In the flood, Noah saved the Bears, not the Saints" and "Ride your boat back to New Orleans, Katrina victims."
Several of my friends have attended other Saints games in Chicago. All described it was one of the worst road game experiences they've endured due to their treatment from Bears fans.
Those fans don't reflect all Chicagoans, and in the past, I've dealt with the Bears media department when requesting interviews for Charles "Peanut" Tillman during his playing career. They were always quick to reply, eager to help, and came across as a classy organization with a desire to help.
With that being said, Saints fans will never forget how they were treated at the NFC title game, or any other game in Chicago for that matter. While the game versus the Bears will be a big one against last year's NFC North Champion, it didn't crack my top 5 list because of too many stories I've been told by fellow Saints fans who have had horrendous experiences attending games at Soldier Field.
5. New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, November 28th (Thanksgiving)
Thanksgiving leftovers. Arch rivals. Primetime network television. The reasons are abundant.
Consider the fact it ends a 4 game stretch of NFC South games in 18 days. A stretch book ended by the dirty birds.
Truthfully, it's not a great spot for the Saints. Winning on a Thursday in the NFL as the road team is difficult, but there's a high chance New Orleans will be able to separate themselves in the division with a win in this spot.
4. New Orleans Saints vs Houston Texans, September 9th (MNF)
A Monday night game against Houston only cracks this list because of its slot on the schedule.
While the Texans have been a playoff team three times in the last four years, a game against an AFC South foe isn't as appealing as the matchup like the one at Seattle in week 3. But as the season opener at home in primetime, it has to be on my list.
We may look back at the first episode of season 8 of Game of Thrones differently once the series concludes next month, but 8 days ago, any fan of the show was glued to their television after a long wait following the end of season 7.
After an offseason chock full of indignation after getting screwed out of a Super Bowl appearance due to the nefarious non-call against the Rams*, the season opener (sorry preseason) will be the first real moment Saints fans can return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to begin what they hope will be the 2019 season of revenge.
3. New Orleans Saints vs Dallas Cowboys, September 29th (SNF)
If ticket prices are any indication, this game should arguably be ranked 1 on the list.
With Club Level seats currently listed on the secondary market at over $1,000 a ticket, this week 4 primetime matchup between two 2018 Divisional Champions will be highly anticipated.
After opening and ending 2018's regular season with losses (though the final game the Saints rested the majority of their starters and their playbook), the Cowboys gave the Saints their biggest blemish on the regular season resume, ending their 10 game winning streak in a nationally televised primetime game.
With years of comical rumors that coach Sean Payton would leave the Saints for the Cowboys, and perpetual trash talking between the two fan bases, the biggest challenge for New Orleans versus Dallas will be whether it can live up to the hype.
2. New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams*, September 15th
1. New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons, November 10th
The first game of 4 straight within the division, it's paramount the Saints procure the victory.
For Atlanta, it's the first of 5 consecutive NFC South games. On another note, the Falcons once blew a 25 point lead in the Super Bowl.
While the first 4 games of the season are hellacious on paper, the 4 game stretch following the week 9 bye is likely to determine the Saints playoff fate.
But let's be real, even if both teams are 0-8, it's Saints vs Falcons. Extra stakes adds fuel to the fire, but the fire is forever burning between these two teams and their fan bases.