NFC North colleague Kevin Seifert brought up an excellent point about an additional consequence of the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal.
You can almost certainly cross the Saints off the list of teams to play the season-opening Wednesday night (Sept. 5) game at the New York Giants.
Before all the trouble started, the Saints appeared to be on a short list to face the defending Super Bowl champions. They did it last year when they opened the season with a Thursday night game at Green Bay.
Since the NFL doesn’t usually schedule division opponents in its kickoff game, the Saints likely were on a short list with the Packers and Steelers to open in New York. I’m pretty sure that list is down to just the Packers and the Steelers now, and I’d guess that Green Bay is the heavy favorite. That would pit the past two Super Bowl champions against each other, and you can’t ask for a better storyline.
I really don’t think the league would want to take away attention from the opening game with another big round of publicity about the bounty program. In fact, I think you could see less of the Saints, who have been a prime-time regular in recent years, in nationally televised games.
We might find out the exact pairing for the opening game next week at the NFL meeting in Palm Beach, Fla. We likely will get the complete NFL schedule in April.