New Orleans Saints schedule 2024: Takeaways, predictions

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints' 2024 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Wednesday.

Former Saints coach Sean Payton, now with the Denver Broncos, will coach in New Orleans for the first time since stepping down after the 2021 season when the Saints and Broncos meet on "Thursday Night Football" on Oct. 17.

That will be one of three prime-time games for the Saints in 2024, which equals last season's total.

New Orleans will play in prime time on "Monday Night Football" against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5 on Oct. 7 and against the Green Bay Packers in Week 16 on Dec. 23. The Saints last had two appearances on "Monday Night Football" during the 2022 season.

The Saints have never played the Packers this late in the season. Their last December game at Green Bay was in 1972, with a temperature of 39 degrees at kickoff. It could rival the coldest Saints game in franchise history: A 2022 game in Cleveland on Christmas, which the Saints won 17-10 in a game that was six degrees at kickoff.

New Orleans is tied for easiest strength of schedule in 2024, but the Eagles, Packers and Chiefs could be some of their tougher matchups.

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


Week 1: Sept. 8 vs. Carolina

Week 2: Sept. 15 at Dallas

Week 3: Sept. 22 vs. Eagles

Week 4: Sept. 29 at Atlanta

Week 5: Oct. 7 at Kansas City (MNF)

Week 6: Oct. 13 vs. Tampa Bay

Week 7: Oct. 17 vs. Denver (TNF)

Week 8: Oct. 27 at Los Angeles Chargers

Week 9: Nov. 3 at Carolina

Week 10: Nov. 10 vs. Atlanta

Week 11: Nov. 17 vs. Cleveland

Week 12: BYE

Week 13: Dec. 1 vs. Los Angeles Rams

Week 14: Dec. 8 at New York Giants

Week 15: Dec. 15 vs. Washington

Week 16: Dec. 23 at Packers (MNF)

Week 17: Dec. 29 vs. Raiders

Week 18: TBD at Tampa Bay

Strength of schedule: .453 (tied for easiest)

Over/Under: 7.5

Biggest takeaway

The first half of the Saints' schedule is more difficult than the latter half, with the Cowboys, Eagles and Chiefs matchups all in the first five weeks. That means the Saints, who struggled offensively in the early part of last year, will need to get things together much faster to match up with the Cowboys (No. 1 scoring offense in 2023), the back-to-back Super Bowl champion Chiefs and the Eagles. The game against Payton will loom large as Payton likely still knows the Saints defense as well as anyone. The biggest issue after the bye will be the cold weather game against the Packers, which might end up being their toughest game of the season.

Revenge game

All eyes will be on the Broncos and Payton's return to the Caesars Superdome on Oct. 17. Payton's last game in the Superdome was an 18-10 win against the Carolina Panthers on Jan. 2, 2022, before he stepped down as coach of the Saints three weeks later. Payton now has more than 10 members of his staff with significant ties to the Saints and several former players as well, including kicker Wil Lutz, who the Saints traded to the Broncos last year. While Derek Carr's first game against the Raiders is another potential revenge game, Payton's first game on the opposite sideline will likely draw more interest than almost any game on the schedule.

Bold prediction

The Saints will have a losing record heading into the Broncos game in Week 7. The Saints are not only installing a new offense this year, but they have multiple questions on their offensive line at this early stage, and that ended up being a major issue early last season. The early schedule did them no favors with the Super Bowl champions and three early playoff teams in the first five weeks. Considering how long the offense took to jell last year, that should be a big concern in 2024.