The New Orleans Saints now know their 2015 preseason opponents, and the inclusion of some familiar foes opens up the possibility of joint practices.
The Saints open the preseason on the road against the Baltimore Ravens. The next two games will be at home against the New England Patriots and Houston Texans. The Saints then close on the road against the Green Bay Packers.
The game against Houston, set for 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30, will be televised nationally by Fox, the Saints announced Thursday. Dates and times for the other games have not been unveiled.
The Saints and Patriots conducted joint sessions at Gillette Stadium before a 2012 preseason game. The team also held joint practices with the Texans in 2008, 2009 and 2010. They did not practice together before preseason games from 2011-13.
It’s not clear how New Orleans will manage its offseason schedule. Last year, the team opened with a road preseason game against the St. Louis Rams, returned to The Greenbrier in West Virginia for five days, then came back home before the second preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.
If joint practices are conducted with the Patriots, it’s possible those sessions will be held in New Orleans to make the schedule more feasible for both teams.
The practices between the Saints and Texans featured fights during both the 2009 and 2010 sessions.
The schedule for the regular season has not been announced; the NFL is expected to do so within the next few weeks. The Saints will host Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Dallas, the New York Giants, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Detroit.
They go on the road against Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Washington, Houston, Indianapolis and Arizona.
The preseason schedule is favorable for local fans since the third game typically is the one that features the starters for the longest period of time. It also features three strong quarterbacks in Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, New England’s Tom Brady and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, which should give an early indication of how the revamped secondary is coming together. The Saints signed cornerback Brandon Browner and will be getting back last year’s prized acquisition, safety Jairus Byrd, from a season-ending knee injury.
This is the second consecutive year New Orleans will face Baltimore in the preseason. The Saints hosted Baltimore in a 22-13 loss last season and then fell to Baltimore 34-27 during the regular season. Logistically, this trip is favorable for the Saints since Baltimore is one of the closer NFL locations to The Greenbrier.
New England is coming off a Super Bowl victory over Seattle and holds a 6-4 edge in the preseason series. The teams last met in 2013, a game the Patriots won 30-27. The Patriots won a 2012 preseason meeting 7-6.
The Saints have a 4-3 preseason record against the Texans and faced them in six consecutive years from 2008-13. New Orleans will face the Texans in Houston at some point during the regular season.
The Saints and Packers have not faced each other in the preseason since 2004, a game also played at Lambeau Field. The Packers hold a 6-2 preseason edge, but New Orleans beat visiting Green Bay 44-23 during the 2014 regular season.