2010 NFL Schedule: Will Lightning Strike Twice for New Orleans Saints?

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2010 NFL Schedule: Will Lightning Strike Twice for New Orleans Saints?
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The New Orleans Saints' 2010 schedule is hot off the press and a few things instantly grabbed my attention:

1)The Nation Will Be Watching

With five prime-time games, including their first two games of the season, the entire nation will be able to see how the Saints handle the gigantic target on their backs. Yes, the spotlight will be bright, but New Orleans has proved they can win on the biggest stage.

2) The Bye Week

The November bye week should be beneficial. The league dealt the Saints a Week Five bye last season. The Saints played 12 straight games, suffered through numerous injuries, and couldn't rest until they clinched the No. 1 seed late in December.

New Orleans should be well rested when they head into a stretch when they play four out of five on the road late in the year.

3) Grudge Matches

Though the stakes won't be as high, the Minnesota Vikings will be looking to avenge last season's loss in the NFC championship game when the two teams open up the NFL season on Thursday, September 9.

New Orleans travels to Dallas and will be looking to pay back the Cowboys for handing them their first loss of 2009. Not only will this game be tough enough because it's in Dallas, but it's also the Cowboys' traditional Thanksgiving game.

I had hoped that the Saints would play their first Thanksgiving game in Detroit instead.

4) Cold Weather Games

At this time last year, I was ecstatic that the Saints wouldn't have any cold weather games. Games against cold weather teams such as the Bills, Giants, Jets, and Patriots were all either at home or in September.

New Orleans didn't get so lucky this year.

They must travel to both Cincinnati and Baltimore in December. The only benefit is that both games are currently scheduled for 1 pm local time, and it should be a little bit warmer than a 4:15 pm game.

I expect the Saints to get off to a fast start. I don't see them losing their home opener because they'll be unveiling their championship banner in the dome on the same night and the crowd will be jacked up.

New Orleans plays three of its first four games at home. They play back-to-back games against last place teams (Tampa Bay and Cleveland). I see a 7-2 or 8-1 start before the bye.

The schedule after the bye gets tough with four games on the road all against teams that should be in the playoff hunt. Week 16 against Atlanta may be for the division title. If they win that game, they'll likely rest the starters in the season finale against Tampa Bay.

It's too early to tell now, but I expect the New Orleans Saints to finish 11-5 or 12-4.

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