New Orleans Saints open up their 2015 season with a Honey Badger sighting at the Arizona Cardinals _lowres

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) drops back to pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)


Week 1 at Cardinals

When: 3:05 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13

TV: Fox

Need to know: The Cardinals started three quarterbacks but still managed to make the playoffs. The reason? They protected the football. Despite the QB uncertainty, the trio threw a combined 12 interceptions last year.

Cardinals in 2014: 11-5

Week 2 vs. Bucs

When: Noon Sunday, Sept. 20

TV: Fox

Need to know: It’s likely that the Saints will be facing a quarterback for the first time in this meeting since the Bucs are expected to select Jameis Winston of Marcus Mariota with the first pick of the draft.

Bucs in 2014: 2-14

Week 3 at Panthers

When: Noon Sunday, Sept. 27

TV: Fox

Need to know: Want to beat Cam Newton? Force him to throw to the right side of the field. In the past two seasons, Newton has completed 58 percent of his passes to the right. He’s at 68 percent everywhere else.

Panthers in 2014: 7-8-1

Week 4 vs. Cowboys

When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4


Need to know: Former RB DeMarco Murray rushed for 149 yards against the Saints last year, which allowed QB Tony Romo to hit on 6-of-7 play-action passes for 78 yards. Darren McFadden is now the lead back here.

Cowboys in 2014: 12-4

Week 5 at Eagles

When: Noon Sunday, Oct. 11

TV: Fox

Need to know: RB DeMarco Murray, who gashed the Saints in Week 4 last season, is now taking handoffs in Philly. The Eagles had some issues across the offensive line last season, so perhaps Murray will be easier to slow.

Eagles in 2014: 10-6

Week 6 vs. Falcons

When: 7:25 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15

TV: CBS/NFL Network

Need to know: Matt Ryan was sacked 31 times, but many of those were not his fault. The QB was sacked on only 12.1 percent of the plays when he faced pressure, the seventh-best mark in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

Falcons in 2014: 6-10

Week 7 at Colts

When: Noon Sunday, Oct. 25

TV: Fox

Need to know: Andrew Luck posted a 118.9 passer rating following a play-action fake last season, no small feat considering Indy averaged 3.9 yards per carry. With a better running game, Luck could be even more deadly.

Colts in 2014: 11-5

Week 8 vs. Giants

When: Noon, Sunday Nov. 1

TV: Fox

Need to know: How good is WR Odell Beckham Jr.? Eli Manning posted a 127.6 rating when throwing to him. Among receivers with 10 or more catches, Manning did not hit a rating of 85 or higher with any other player.

Giants in 2014: 6-10

Week 9 vs. Titans

When: Noon Sunday, Nov. 8


Need to know: The Titans had one of the more porous pass defenses in the NFL last season, allowing opposing quarterbacks to compete 63.7 percent of their passes for a 93.6 passer rating. They did record 39 sacks, though.

Titans in 2014: 2-14

Week 10 at Redskins

When: Noon Sunday, Nov. 15

TV: Fox

Need to know: Many lament the lack of interceptions by the New Orleans defense, but it could be worse. Washington only managed seven picks last season. Only Kansas City, the Jets and Jacksonville (six each) were worse.

Redskins in 2014: 4-12

Week 11: Open date

Week 12 at Texans

When: Noon Sunday, Nov. 29

TV: Fox

Need to know: J.J. Watt will be playing. That’s about all you need to know. The DE had 119 total pressures, 21 sacks, 10 batted passes and four forced fumbles last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Texans in 2014: 9-7

Week 13 vs. Panthers

When: Noon, Sunday Dec. 6

TV: Fox

Need to know: The knock on WR Kelvin Benjamin coming into the league last year was that he had bad hands. It was true: According to Pro Football Focus, Benjamin dropped 11 of the 84 catchable passes thrown to him last season.

Panthers in 2014: 7-8-1

Week 14 at Bucs

When: Noon Sunday, Dec. 13

TV: Fox

Need to know: The Bucs had the upper hand on the Saints in the season finale before benching many of their starters in the second half, which helped ensure this team would have the top pick in the draft.

Bucs in 2014: 2-14

Week 15 vs. Lions

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21


Need to know: CB Brandon Browner had one of his better games last year against WR Calvin Johnson. Playing for the Patriots, Browner was targeted seven times vs. Johnson and allowed three catches for 46 yards.

Lions in 2014: 11-5

Week 16 vs. Jaguars

When: Noon Sunday, Dec. 27


Need to know: The Jaguars didn’t do a lot of things well last season, but they did they did collect 45 sacks. Another nugget: QB Blake Bortles threw 475 passes last season. Only 51 came with the Jaguars holding a lead.

Jaguars in 2014: 3-13

Week 17 at Falcons

When: Noon Sunday, Jan. 3

TV: Fox

Need to know: CB Desmond Trufant quietly had Drew Brees’ number last season. The Falcons standout held Brees to a 59.4 passer rating when throwing his direction in Week 1, then to a 45.1 rating in Week 16.

Falcons in 2014: 6-10

Preseason schedule

at Ravens

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13

TV: WVUE (Fox-8)

vs. Patriots

WHEN: Time TBA Saturday, Aug. 22

TV: WVUE (Fox-8)

vs. Texans

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30

TV: Fox

at Packers

WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3

TV: WVUE (Fox-8)