Saints reporter Mike Triplett is predicting an 11-5 finish:
Sept. 9: vs. Houston -- win
Sept. 15: at L.A. Rams -- win
Sept. 22: at Seattle -- loss
Sept. 29: vs. Dallas -- win
Oct. 6: vs. Tampa Bay -- loss
Oct. 13: at Jacksonville -- win
Oct. 20: at Chicago -- loss
Oct. 27: vs. Arizona -- win
Nov. 10: vs. Atlanta -- win
Nov. 17: at Tampa Bay -- win
Nov. 24: vs. Carolina -- win
Nov. 28: at Atlanta -- loss
Dec. 8: vs. San Francisco -- win
Dec. 16: vs. Indianapolis -- win
Dec. 22: at Tennessee -- win
Dec. 29: at Carolina -- loss
Strength of schedule: 22nd, .488 opponent win percentage
The Saints don’t have to wait long for the most grueling part of their schedule. After kicking off the season at home on a Monday night against the Texans, they’ll travel across the country on a short week for their much-anticipated rematch with the Rams. Then they’re back on the West Coast a week later at Seattle. It will be interesting to see if the Saints stay out west that entire week or rack up the frequent flyer miles instead.
The rest of the schedule looks mostly manageable. They have to play on the road in a short week at Atlanta on Thanksgiving night. But they’ll get both of their Monday night games at home. Plus, they avoided the most brutal weather scenarios (such as the cold in Chicago and the heat in Tampa).
Rams rematch will set tone
Speaking of that trip to L.A., it isn't hard to predict the Week 2 storyline. New Orleans will get its chance at revenge after last year’s gut-wrenching NFC Championship Game loss to the Rams. (This time, the Saints will have the ability to challenge any egregious pass interference mishaps.) The Saints will have to channel their emotions in a productive way because this could be a huge matchup when it comes to setting the NFC’s pecking order. Both teams should once again be among the Super Bowl favorites.
New Thanksgiving tradition
For the second straight year, the Saints will play their biggest rivals on Thanksgiving night -- this time on the road. This might not become a permanent tradition, but obviously the NFL likes this Saints-Falcons matchup. Not only is it an intense rivalry, but it also should be an important game late in the season. After a brutal barrage of injuries last year, Atlanta should be right back in the playoff hunt. … The Saints landed a total of four prime-time games, including the Monday night opener against Houston in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.