For the first time in 16 seasons, the Saints will try to navigate through an NFL schedule without Drew Brees as their starting quarterback. in 2021, they will look to win a fifth consecutive NFC South title with a full-time QB change to either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill.
New Orleans will also try to extend its streak of five winning seasons while operating in the same division as reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay. Brees is retired, but coach Sean Payton is still there to lead the team through what won’t be a Big, Easy transition.
How might things go down without Brees? Here is a complete breakdown of the Saints’ 2021 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 17 games.
New Orleans Saints schedule 2021
Here is the New Orleans Saints’ complete schedule for 2021.
Home: Bills, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Dolphins, Falcons, Giants, Packers, Panthers
Away: Buccaneers, Eagles, Falcons, Washington, Jets, Panthers, Patriots, Seahawks, Titans
|1||Sept. 12||vs. Packers||4:25 p.m. ET||Fox|
|2||Sept. 19||at Panthers||1 p.m.||Fox|
|3||Sept. 26||at Patriots||1 p.m.||Fox|
|4||Oct. 3||vs. Giants||1 p.m.||Fox|
|5||Oct. 10||at WFT||1 p.m.||CBS|
|7||Oct. 25||at Seahawks||8:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|8||Oct. 31||vs. Bucs||4:25 p.m.||Fox|
|9||Nov. 7||vs. Falcons||1 p.m.||Fox|
|10||Nov. 14||at Titans||1 p.m.||CBS|
|11||Nov. 21||at Eagles||1 p.m.||Fox|
|12||Nov. 25||vs. Bills||8:20 p.m.||NBC|
|13||Dec. 2||vs. Cowboys||8:20 p.m.||Fox/NFLN/Amazon|
|14||Dec. 12||at Jets||1 p.m.||Fox|
|15||Dec. 19||at Bucs||8:20 p.m.||NBC|
|16||Dec. 27||vs. Dolphins||8:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|17||Jan. 2||vs. Panthers||1 p.m.||Fox|
|18||Jan. 9||at Falcons||1 p.m.||Fox|
The Saints will have a hard time holding off Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, who should jump them easily into first place. The Panthers and Falcons also become more interesting offensive matchups without Brees.
Like their division rivals, the Saints will play the entire NFC East and all of the AFC East. Beyond Washington and the Bills, the Saints also have first-place games against the NFC’s Seahawks and Packers and the AFC’s Titans.
Saints strength of schedule
The Saints have either the 22nd-toughest or 11th-easiest schedule based on one’s perspective. The combined 2020 record of New Orleans’ 2021 opponents is 131-140-1, for a .483 winning percentage.
Counting the Bucs twice, the Saints face returning playoff teams in seven of their 17 games. That gives them by far the toughest slate in the division.
Toughest tests: When the Saints are away from the Superdome, the Bucs, Patriots, Seahawks, Titans and Washington all are daunting. The Bucs, Bills, Packers and Cowboys all can outscore their new-look offense at home.
Biggest breaks: The Panthers and Falcons are must sweeps to offset the rest of the schedule. Three fourths of the NFC East and the Jets are their lone interdivision rotation breaks.
Bottom line: The Saints have a strong supporting cast for either Winston or Hill. Their defense was gutted a bit in free agency because of cap issues, however, and needed reinforcements.
Not knowing who the quarterback will be and how he will play is weird for New Orleans. Everything points to a notable slip closer to the third- and fourth-place teams in the South.
Record prediction: 9-8