The anticipation for the release of the New Orleans Saints 2015 schedule built as it always does every year with so many factors in play.
So many questions go through the minds of people from coaches all the way down to fans, as the times and places are locked in and a road map to the playoffs is laid out.
Road map may be an appropriate term when it comes to certain schedules due to some teams hit with a stretch where they may be on the road for what they feel is an eternity.
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What makes it worse is when the NFL puts teams in literally exhausting situations where players have to grind out a game on fumes and not allowed to recover becoming a major factor.
This was a point Saints head coach Sean Payton made in 2014 after playing the Green Bay Packers on a Sunday night then turning right around to play the Carolina Panthers that Thursday night.
Oct 19, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Payton was visibly upset even though the Saints ended up winning both games, calling the short recovery window “foolish” and further stating:
"“I think the challenges were obvious with regards to logistics. Thursday night games are one thing, but to come out and play on a Sunday night and come back and play on a Thursday.It’s not an excuse for your players, you don’t want it to be, but I would say it’s crazy. It’s silly. It shouldn’t happen.When you actually go through the logistics and see what your players go through, they get out of the stadium Sunday night at midnight. And look, it’s an easy thing to fix.”"
And fix it they did when it came to the Saints schedule this year in regards to the turnaround for their Sunday to Thursday night football game.
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The Saints will play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, October 11th at 12:00 p.m. and then will travel home to face the Atlanta Falcons that Thursday, October 15th at 7:25 p.m.
While the Eagles and Falcons won’t be cupcake opponents, the noon game on Sunday will allow the team to return home early and get the added rest and planning needed for the Thursday night contest.
Another important factor in the schedule is the Saints bye week which is, in my opinion, perfectly placed during the Week 11 of the NFL schedule.
When a team has an early bye, it doesn’t always allow the players to recharge their batteries not only physically but mentally as well as the season begins to stretch.
Aug 3, 2013; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) with son Baylen Brees following a scrimmage at the team training facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
For the Saints it comes at just the right time not only during the season but it helps split two road games as well.
They will play the Washington Redskins on November 15th for a noon game and then go into their bye week, then travel to face the Houston Texans on November 29th at noon.
With a physical defense spearheaded by Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, the Saints will get some much needed rest before having to face them.
While the Saints are probably pleased with having the fifth easiest schedule in the NFL, that have to be equally as pleased with being able to help their players maximize recovery for their bodies and their minds as well….