This is a season of uncertainty for the Saints. It’s the second year of the post-Drew Brees era, the first without Sean Payton, and the first in Dennis Allen’s return to head coaching. The team made it abundantly clear that Jameis Winston wasn’t their first option at quarterback with its concerted effort to acquire Deshaun Watson. After Watson went to Cleveland, the Saints re-signed Winston.
To their credit, the Saints have made an effort to improve positions of need. After losing Terron Armstead to the Dolphins, they drafted Trevor Penning for the offensive line. Their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft was Chris Olave, who will help to bolster a wide receiver corps that was among the weakest in the league last year without Michael Thomas. Alvin Kamara remains the most reliable player on their roster, although his status for the beginning of the season is in question after his February arrest in Las Vegas at the Pro Bowl on battery charges. A hearing is set for August.
While the Buccaneers are still the team to beat in the NFC South, the Saints showed last year they won’t go quietly into the night. Even with myriad injuries, notably Winston’s ACL tear, and games missed because of COVID-19, they eked out a 9-8 record and were a 49ers loss away from the making the playoffs.
Although the Saints have the talent to be competitive, Allen is a huge unknown as he replaces Payton. He was great in the one game he coached last season, but it’s hard to keep that up over the course of a season. Pete Carmichael Jr. will be the offensive coordinator in more than name. The coaching staff will be a huge part of how the Saints do next season.
New Orleans Saints schedule 2022
The Saints’ schedule will be unveiled as part of the NFL’s schedule release on Thursday, May 12.
- Home: Rams, Seahawks, Ravens, Bengals, Raiders, Vikings, Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers
- Away: Cardinals, 49ers, Browns, Steelers, Eagles, Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers
|4||Oct. 2||vs. Vikings (in London)||9:30 a.m.||NFL Network|
Playing in the NFC South, the Saints will get two games each against the Falcons and Panthers to go with their two against the Buccaneers. New Orleans is 4-0 in the regular season against Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay, including last year’s stunning 9-0 upset in prime time. Its out-of-division games will be against the AFC North, the NFC West and a trio of teams that finished second in 2021.
Saints strength of schedule
After their 9-8 finish last year, the Saints will be playing a second-place circuit. Their auxiliary games will be against the Eagles and Vikings in the NFC and the Raiders in the AFC.
Toughest tests: The Buccaneers remain one of the toughest teams in the league with the return of Tom Brady, but playing the NFC West this year will be a particularly tough task. The Rams, Cardinals and 49ers all have big aspirations heading into this season, though it is fortunate for the Saints that they’ll play the Seahawks in New Orleans.
The Saints will also face the AFC North, which features the reigning AFC champion Bengals and the Browns. While not the most difficult interconference schedule, traveling to Cleveland and Pittsburgh can prove challenging for a team with the makeup of the Saints.
Biggest breaks: The second-place schedule isn’t particularly brutal, either. The Eagles are improved and the Vikings always play the Saints tough, but New Orleans should match up well against them. The Saints’ games against the Falcons and Panthers favor them on paper, while recent regular-season games against Tampa Bay have gone their way.
Bottom line: The Saints are a total toss-up. A new coaching staff is in place and they’re playing teams that are similarly difficult to predict. The Eagles, Steelers, Falcons, Panthers, Raiders and Seahawks are all in weird spots heading into the season, meaning the Saints could go either way depending on how their competition goes.
Record prediction: 8-9