The New Orleans Saints lost badly to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12, falling to 4-8 on the season so far. They’re down in the NFC South, but they aren’t out just yet. They still have five games left to play, with three scheduled road games and the benefits of a late-season bye week.
So what’s your prediction for the rest of their regular season schedule? Here’s how we see each game playing out:
Week 13 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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This feels like a game the Saints should win. Their defense is almost back to full strength and they’ll be facing a Buccaneers offense that’s, well, anything but firing on all cylinders. It remains to be seen if the New Orleans offense can put points on the board against a team with a backbone, but they won this game in Tampa last year without much fireworks. I like them to do it again.
Saints win, improve to 5-8
Week 14 on bye
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Finally, a break. Let’s hope the Saints get a more favorable bye week next season. Waiting until mid-December for a breather hasn’t done them many favors.
Week 15 vs. Atlanta Falcons
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There’s a lot at stake in this game. The Saints and Falcons are tied up all-time in regular season meetings 53-53, so this is a chance for the Saints to finally take the lead in that rivalry series. If you’re a stickler for detail and count the playoffs (and you should, I’ll admit) Atlanta leads 54-53 thanks to their one postseason win over New Orleans. Here’s a chance for the Saints to come out of their bye week and get a victory against a team they’ve already beaten once this year. Call me an optimist.
Saints win, improve to 6-8
Week 16 at Cleveland Browns
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The Browns haven’t been any good this year, but neither have the Saints. And Cleveland is introducing Deshaun Watson soon so it’s anyone’s guess how they’ll look this time next month. I think the Saints will be able to move the ball against the Browns and get some stops, but it’s going to be a cold-weather situation on Christmas Eve, which is daunting for a Saints team that’s only won a single road game all year (against the Falcons indoors, back in Week 1). I think the Browns take this one.
Saints lose, fall to 6-9
Week 17 at Philadelphia Eagles
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Here comes the suck. The Eagles have steamrolled the Saints in Philadelphia in each of the last two seasons, and that was before they loaded up for a Super Bowl run with Jalen Hurts playing like an MVP candidate. I wouldn’t like this game at any point on the schedule, but having it come on the heels of another cold-weather road game isn’t good for New Orleans. The Eagles should have plenty of motivation to run their starters all game with playoff seeds and draft pick positioning on the line. This game shouldn’t be close.
Saints lose, fall to 6-10
Week 18 vs. Carolina Panthers
Nov 24, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye (4) attempts a field goal in the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won, 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
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Here’s your typical regular season finale with the Panthers at the Caesars Superdome (we’ve seen this matchup often recently; the NFL scheduled Saints-Panthers games in the regular season closer for 2020, 2019, and 2018). It’s not like the Panthers have gone in the tank. They’ve won more games this year with Steve Wilks (going 3-4) than they did with Matt Rhule as head coach (1-4 prior to his dismissal). They probably aren’t going to throw this game for a better draft pick. Like the Saints, they’ll be a bad team playing for their pride. Who comes out on top? I’ll pick the Saints and try to send them some goodwill.