The NFL schedule will be announced tonight, and as a primer for the announcement, hereâ€™s a look at the most likely Saints games to land in one of the primetime spots on the schedule.
Expect the Saints to get either three or four primetime games in 2011. Last season, coming off a Super Bowl victory, the Saints had four games in primetime â€“ the Thursday night opener, one Sunday night and two Monday nights â€“ plus a Thanksgiving Day game.
Hereâ€™s a rundown of the 16 regular-season games â€“ from most ready to least ready for primetime:
At Green Bay: The last two Super Bowl champs. Need we say more? Last yearâ€™s matchup of the last two teams to hoist the Lombardi trophy â€“ the Saints and Steelers â€“ landed a Sunday night spot. A strong candidate for the opening Thursday night game. Odds: Even money.
UPDATE: A source tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Saints-Packers will indeed kickoff the NFL season on Thursday night.
Home vs., or at, Atlanta: One of these games has made it on Monday Night Football five of the last six seasons. Only way itâ€™s not six of seven is if the primetime slot moves to Sunday night. Odds: 6-to-5.
Home vs. Indianapolis: A rematch of Super Bowl XLIV, and unless the Colts make the Super Bowl in New Orleans in January 2013, this is likely Peyton Manningâ€™s final trip home. The last two Saints-Colts regular-season games have been in prime time. Odds: 9-to-5.
Home vs., or at, Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers are one of the most improved teams in the NFL and clearly deserving of some prime time attention. Odds: 6-to-1.
Home vs. Chicago: The Bears came within one game of reaching the Super Bowl last year. Odds: 8-to-1.
Home vs. New York Giants: Eli Manning will hope for a better fate than the last time he brought the G-Men to the Superdome. Odds: 12-to-1.
Home vs. Detroit: A sleeper possibility. The Lions havenâ€™t gotten any primetime love in many years. Odds: 15-to-1.
At St. Louis: Another sleeper. The Rams figure to be even better in 2011 as Sam Bradford has a year under his belt. Perhaps a candidate for a late-season Thursday night game on NFL Network? Odds: 20-to-1.
At Jacksonville: The Saintsâ€™ first trip back to Jacksonville since the River City Relay. Another Thursday possibility. Odds: 25-to-1.
At Minnesota: The least best chance of a primetime game against the NFC North. Odds: 25-to-1.
Home vs., or at, Carolina: A chance to showcase the Panthersâ€™ new quarterback, assuming they go that way with the No. 1 overall pick? Doubtful. Odds: 30-to-1.
Home vs. Houston: Perhaps a little too regional, and if the Colts game lands in primetime, this will be the only chance for CBS to show the Saints. Odds: 30-to-1.
At Tennessee: Four years ago, this game was on Monday night. Doubtful this one gets the same fate. Odds: 30-to-1.
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