New Orleans Saints schedule 2023: Takeaways, predictions

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- The New Orleans Saints' 2023 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Thursday.

The Saints will get a true home opener for the first time since the 2019 season, as no fans were allowed at the 2020 home opener due to COVID-19 restrictions and the 2021 opener against the Green Bay Packers was moved to Jacksonville due to Hurricane Ida.

That means fans won't have to wait long to see new quarterback Derek Carr and the potential return of star wide receiver Michael Thomas. Thomas, who is rehabbing a toe injury, has played in only four regular season games at home since the beginning of the 2020 season.

The Saints will play in three prime time games this season against the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams, which is the same number they got in the 2022 season (they went 0-3 in those games last season). With no international game, they'll also get an earlier bye in Week 11.

Here's what's in store for the Saints:


Sept. 10: vs. Tennessee

Sept. 18: at Carolina (MNF)

Sept 24: at Green Bay

Oct. 1: vs. Tampa Bay

Oct. 8: at New England

Oct. 15: at Houston

Oct. 19: vs. Jacksonville (TNF)

Oct. 29: at Indianapolis

Nov. 5: vs Chicago

Nov. 12: at Minnesota

Nov. 19: Bye

Nov. 26: at Atlanta

Dec. 3: vs. Lions

Dec: 10: vs. Panthers

Dec. 17: vs. New York Giants

Dec. 21: at Los Angeles Rams (TNF)

Dec. 31: at Tampa Bay

Week 18: TBD vs. Atlanta

Strength of schedule: Second easiest, .427

Over/Under: 9.5

Biggest takeaway

The Saints aren't racking up the miles they were in 2022, which involved multiple West Coast trips and a week in London. But their 2023 schedule is still tricky for how some of their road games are spread out. An away game against the Panthers on a Monday night followed by a trip to Green Bay on a short week could prove tough, and there's also a trip to Los Angeles on a short week late in the season. The Saints also have back-to-back road games three times on the schedule. Although the road games could prove difficult, the Saints have some time to breathe in the latter part of the schedule, as they will have three straight home games before their trip to play the Rams.

Revenge game

The Saints don't face the Denver Broncos and former coach Sean Payton or the Las Vegas Raiders, where Carr spent the first part of his career, until 2024. Some big revenge games will have to wait, although running back Jamaal Williams facing the Lions after a sour exit in free agency could prove intriguing, and they'll face several former Saints when they play the Falcons.

But they will also potentially face former quarterback Andy Dalton, who started 14 games for New Orleans last year before signing with the Panthers in the offseason. They'll be looking to turn the tables after the Panthers swept them last season-- two losses that could've put the Saints in the playoffs in 2022. This is the third straight season the Saints face the Panthers on the road in September, with losses in both, including one in 2021 when several members of the coaching staff were out due to COVID-19.

Bold prediction

The Saints will finish with a better divisional record and positioning after going 2-4 last season. It's too early to know if they have the ability to win the division, but they have a prime opportunity to finish better than a three-way tie for 7-10.

The Saints could be facing the Panthers and Dalton, who hasn't won a prime time game in 2018, or rookie quarterback Bryce Young in the second week of his career. They'll also get potential "cold weather" games out of the way early, with the Patriots, Panthers and Packers games coming up in the first half of the schedule. While divisional games are always a toss-up, it plays in the Saints' favor that all three teams in the division will be sorting out their quarterback situations this year, especially in the early games against the Panthers and Buccaneers.