It is now official. The New Orleans Saints 2016 regular season schedule is now set, and their first opponent will be the new and improved Oakland Raiders. With the recent acquisitions that the Raiders have made to improve their roster, this game has turned into an intriguing matchup. The Raiders are the first of opponent that the Saints will face during their 2016 AFC West round robin.
A few months ago, many Saints fans and analyst were concerned about how the team would measure up against the highly competitive division from the AFC, however; things have changed a little. Justin Houston’s torn ACL injury could sideline him for the remainder of the 2016 season.
With that being said the Saints chances of winning that game have increased, because the Chiefs could be without one of their best players on defense. If you have ever paid close attention to the recent history of the Chiefs, they are a different team on defense when Justin Houston is not in the lineup. Another big time matchup against the AFC West that could go the Saints way is the game against the Denver Broncos.
Peyton Manning has retired, and his heir apparent Brock Osweiler decided to go for the big payday when he signed with the Houston Texans last month. Their defense is still good, but they will be without a few key contributors from last season’s Super Bowl championship run. Defensive stars, Danny Trevathan and Malik Jackson decided to cash in on big free agency deals with other teams.
Another pressing issue is that the Broncos have decided to place the franchise tag on Super Bowl 50 Most Valuable Player Von Miller. According to ESPN.Com NFL writer, Jeff Legwold, Miller is not expected to join the team unless a new long-term deal is in place. I do not know how long it will take for the Broncos front office to sign Miller to a long-term contract, but I believe he will be ready to go when the Broncos take on the Saints in Week 9.
The first seven games will determine what type of Saints team we will see in 2016. If you follow this franchise religiously, you will notice that if they start off the season with at least a 2-4 record in their first six ball games, they will probably miss the playoffs. Saints teams that have made the playoffs in the “Sean Payton Era” usually start off the season with at least a 5-0 record.
We will also get to see how the defense will look under full-time defensive coordinator, Dennis Allen, who took over for Rob Ryan, who got fired half-way through the season in 2015. Last but not least, there’s the long-awaited payback game on October 31st when the Saints finally get a chance to host the Seattle Seahawks. Two of the Saints last three playoff exits have come from the “Juggernaut from the Pacific Northwest.”
Only Drew Brees and a few others remain from the team that suffered that gut wrenching loss on Saturday evening three years ago. There will be no room for the Saints to start off the 2016 season with dismal results. As always, their defense will be the determining factor in the majority of their ball games.
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