Saints schedule analysis

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Breakdown: The good news is the Saints have the NFC South's easiest schedule. The bad news is only seven teams in the NFL have tougher schedules, based on opponents' records from 2008.

The Saints have been slow starters the last two seasons and that's part of why they haven't made the playoffs either year. But the door is open for a fast start this time around. The Saints open at home with a Detroit team that was winless last season.

The Saints don't play an NFC South opponent until Nov. 2 when they face the Falcons. But they'll be playing mostly division opponents during the second half of the schedule. The season finale at Carolina is set up to be a game that has the potential to decide the division title.

Here's the complete NFL schedule.

Complaint department: You aren't going to hear any complaints about this schedule from the Saints. That's largely because there are no hardships on this schedule compared to last year's. The Saints went 42 days without a game in the Superdome last year and had to travel all the way to London.

America's team: Does the NFL office know something the rest of us don't? The Saints got three prime time games, the most of any NFC South team. Not bad for a team that finished fourth in the division last year. The league usually tries to speculate on what teams will be good before putting them in prime time. It also doesn't hurt to have the appeal of Drew Brees and Reggie Bush.

New Orleans Saints regular-season schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13 DETROIT LIONS 1:00 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20 at Philadelphia Eagles 1:00 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27 at Buffalo Bills 4:05 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4 N.Y JETS 4:05 p.m.
Week 5: BYE WEEK
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18 N.Y. GIANTS 1:00 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25 at Miami Dolphins 4:15 p.m.
Week 8: Monday, Nov. 2 ATLANTA FALCONS 8:30 p.m. ESPN
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8 CAROLINA PANTHERS 4:05 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15 at St. Louis Rams 1:00 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1:00 p.m.
Week 12: Monday, Nov. 30 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 8:30 p.m. ESPN
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6 at Washington Redskins 1:00 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13 at Atlanta Falcons 1:00 p.m.
Week 15: Saturday, Dec. 19 DALLAS COWBOYS 8:20 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 1:00 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3 at Carolina Panthers 1:00 p.m.