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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
New Orleans Saints schedule analysis

By Pat Yasinskas

Breakdown: The Saints not only get the national stage in the season opener at Green Bay, but they get it three more times. Prime time games with the Colts, Giants and Falcons also highlight the schedule of a team that went 11-6 last season and won the Super Bowl the season before that.

You know the storyline on the opener – the past two Super Bowl champions facing off. But the plots for the other prime-time games are just as good. The Oct. 23 game against Indianapolis will bring Peyton Manning back to his hometown and put his father, Archie, in a very tough spot.

The Nov. 28 “Monday Night Football’’ game in the Super Dome also will bring home Peyton Manning’s brother, Eli. That game also has the subplot of Sean Payton facing the New York Giants, the team with which his coaching reputation really took off. Of course, New Orleans’ other home Monday night game might be the biggest of all. That’s Dec. 26 against the Atlanta Falcons. These teams don’t like each other and anytime they play late in the season, it’s likely to have huge implications on the NFC South standings.

Complaint department: Success comes with a price and we’ve known for months the Saints would have to face two very good NFC North teams, Green Bay and Chicago. But, despite the great spotlight that comes with the opener, the league didn’t do the Saints any favors by making their first two games against the Packers and Bears. The Saints also got hit with one of the NFL’s rare three-game road trips. They’ve got to travel to Jacksonville, Carolina and Tampa Bay in consecutive weeks in October.

Monday night madness: The two Monday night games might be a good sign. Since Payton’s arrival in 2006, the Saints are 7-2 on Monday nights and they’ve also won their past five Monday night contests.

Saints Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Thursday, Sep. 8, at Green Bay, 8:30 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 18, Chicago, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 25, Houston, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2, at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9, at Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 16, at Tampa Bay, 4:15 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23, Indianapolis, 8:20 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30, at St. Louis, 1:00 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6, Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13, at Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: Monday, Nov. 28, NY Giants, 8:30 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4, Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11, at Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18, at Minnesota, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Monday, Dec. 26, Atlanta, 8:30 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1, Carolina, 1:00 PM