NEW ORLEANS — If the NFL's schedule makers are any gauge, the New Orleans Saints are expected to be a top team in the league this coming season.
The schedule includes at least seven national television games, including two Monday Night games, two Thursday night games (which includes a Thanksgiving Night national audience) and a Sunday night game against Tampa Bay.
There are also at least two national games on FOX, the season opener against Green Bay and a Halloween Day game against Tampa Bay.
In addition, five of the national games are in the Superdome, a nod to the frenzied atmosphere that plays well on live TV.
The Saints are usually considered an attractive prime time match for any team, but this season is a little more of a wild card as the team does not have Drew Brees at the helm.
There are hopes that either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill can do the job and do it well, but after 15 seasons with a future Hall of Famer, the uncertainty could have networks shying away from the team for late season national broadcasts should they come up with a poor season.
This year's season is also 18 weeks long with an additional game and a bye week.
Here is what seems to be consensus on the schedule.
Home games in all caps.
Sept. 12 GREEN BAY PACKERS 3:25 pm
Sept. 19 @Carolina Panthers
Sept. 26 @New England (From Nick Underhill)
Oct. 3 NEW YORK GIANTS
Oct. 10 @Washington Football Team
Oct. 17 BYE
Oct. 25 @ Seattle Seahahwks (Monday Night)
Oct. 31 TAMPA BAY BUCS (From Nick Underhill)
Nov. 7 ATLANTA FALCONS
Nov. 14 @Tennessee Titans
Nov. 21 @Philadelphia Eagles
Nov. 25 BUFFALO BILLS (Thanksgiving)
Dec. 2 DALLAS COWBOYS (Thursday Night)
Dec. 12 @New York Jets
Dec. 19 @Tampa Bay Bucs (Sunday Night)
Dec. 27 MIAMI DOLPHINS (Monday Night)
Jan. 2 CAROLINA PANTHERS
Jan. 9 @Atlanta Falcons