NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The Saints scheduled release Thursday night brought a realization of just how challenging the 2020 season could be. In the final four games of the season, three of their opponents will be playoff participants from 2019. As a testament to the intrigue surrounding what could be Drew Brees’ final season, New Orleans is preliminarily slated for a national audience in 9 of their 16 games.
FOX 8 Saints Analyst Deuce McAllister thinks the overall challenge of the campaign will make it tough for the Saints to match the 13-3 mark they reached the last two seasons “It’s a difficult schedule. When you look at it, at first glance, it’s probably 11-5 or 12-4, somewhere in there. Everything would have to fall into perfect for you to hit another type of season. Now the talent is definitely there, that won’t be the question. The question will be how quickly can this team come together.”
Sean Payton has already punted on the team’s offseason program, telling his players not to worry about returning to the team facility until training camp, and to do so “in the best shape of their lives.” After training camp and preseason, they’ll quickly be put to the test in a Week 1 showdown against Tom Brady’s new-look Tampa Bay Buccaneers “What’s surprising is that it’s not a Sunday night or Monday night,” McAllister mused. “It’s a pretty easy call for them to have the anticipation of two Hall of Fame quarterbacks squaring off in week one. For New Orleans, it just happens to be in your place. It will be the (FOX America’s) Game of the Week because of the time slot but still it’s a nice opening game for both units.”
On a slate full of tantalizing matchups, the Saints most curious date is a Christmas afternoon matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Christmas falls on a Friday in 2020 meaning the Saints and Vikings will play just the NFL’s second-ever Christmas Friday game “It’s unusual to have that time slot. It’s normally that Saturday that they would take but they’re going to go up against the NBA in pretty much a prime time slot that that game will kick off for the Saints. So Saints fans will get treated to another fantastic matchup repeat of the playoff game against the Vikings on Christmas. You have to love where you are and it goes to show, five prime time games for this team shows how much of a commodity they are.”
The league’s only other Christmas Friday game was in 2009 when Tennessee hosted San Diego. Since 1940, there have been 107 NFL games played on Fridays, but only five since 1990.