New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talk strategy against the Carolina Panthers in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017.

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON

The New Orleans Saints are running into the toughest date on any team's schedule this week. 

A road game on a Thursday night against a divisional rival. 

A team in the Saints' situation must balance giving players the rest they need and simultaneously putting in a game plan, a feat that's next to impossible. New Orleans, as it has in the past, is focused on recovery.

"I don't have the right answer for you, because it's difficult to do," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "You try to keep them off their feet today. Recover, rest, tomorrow we'll have a walk-through and Wednesday we'll have a walk-through. That's it."

When the Saints hit the field on Tuesday, the coaching staff must cram an entire week's worth of preparation and game-planning into two sessions.

"You don't have much time, so tomorrow, it'll be a double dose, we'll have to get some first and second down, maybe some third-down stuff, where you're combining three days into two," offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael said.

But the larger problem is getting players ready to go, a problem made even more difficult by how deep the Saints are into the season already. That's why the Saints focus on rest. 

"When you're talking about, what is this, Week 13, 14 technically? Now, it doesn't matter if your guys are trying to bounce back or get healthy," defensive end Cameron Jordan said. "At this point, your body probably needs two or three days to recover, and you don't have that kind of time."

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.