NEW ORLEANS, LA (WLOX) - In a matchup between the Super Bowl XLIV and XLV Champions, the New Orleans Saints will open the 2011 regular season at Green Bay. The announcement came from the NFL Tuesday.
Four prime-time night games are on the club's 16-game schedule, including the traditional kickoff of the entire NFL slate on Thursday, Sept. 8 at the defending champion Green Bay Packers on NBC (7:30 p.m. CT).
The Saints will be one of the teams kicking off the NFL campaign for the second consecutive season and third time in five years.
After taking on the Packers at Lambeau Field, the Saints will host the Chicago Bears in their home opener in the Louisiana Superdome on Sept. 18 (noon CT). It will be the first meeting between the two clubs since 2008 and the first time the Bears come to the Superdome since 2003.
The Saints will then face two consecutive AFC South opponents when they host the Houston Texans at the Superdome on Sept. 25 (noon CT) and then travel to Everbank Field to face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 2 (noon CT) in the start of a three-game road trip.
The Saints will open their 2011 NFC South slate when they travel to Bank of America Stadium on Oct. 9 and play the Carolina Panthers (noon CT). In 2010, New Orleans swept their divisional rivals for the first time since 2001. The Saints three-game swing away from the Superdome at Raymond James Stadium when they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 3:15 p.m. on Oct. 16. The Saints are 22-16 all-time against the Buccaneers after the two clubs split both meetings in 2010.
New Orleans will then make their second appearance on prime-time on Oct. 23, when they host the Indianapolis on NBC's Sunday Night Football (7:20 p.m. CT) in a rematch of Super Bowl XLIV, when the Saints defeated the Colts 31-17 on Feb. 7, 2010. The following Sunday, the Saints will travel to the St. Louis Rams (noon CT) to close out their October slate.
The Saints will then face two straight NFC South opponents, starting when they host Tampa Bay at the Superdome on Nov. 6 (noon CT). They will then travel to the Georgia Dome to face the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 13. The game, which falls on the tenth week of the NFL season, marks the beginning of the NFL's flex scheduling format and the contest, as well as four others are subject to be moved to different time slots. The game is slated to be kicked off at noon CT. The Saints will then have their bye in week 11. This will be the latest weekend the club has had off since the NFL's institution of the bye system in 1990.
The Black-and-Gold will return to the Monday Night Football spotlight following their bye when they host the New York Giants (7:30 p.m. CT) on Nov. 28. Since Sean Payton became head coach in 2006, the Saints have enjoyed a 7-2 record on Monday nights, including five straight wins.
New Orleans then hosts the Detroit Lions in a game scheduled for noon on Dec. 4, followed by a road matchup at the Tennessee Titans, Dec. 11. The Saints will then travel to Minnesota for a Dec. 18 game at the Vikings before closing the regular season against two straight NFC South opponents.
On Monday, Dec. 26, the Saints will host Atlanta in the Superdome for an ESPN-broadcast showdown with the Falcons (7:30 p.m. CT). The game will mark the third-consecutive year that the Saints will face the Falcons on Monday Night Football and the sixth time in the last seven seasons after the two clubs had never faced each other on Monday until 2005. New Orleans will then close out their regular season on Jan. 1, hosting Carolina at the Superdome (noon CT).
2011 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE(All times CENTRAL)
Sept. 8 at Green Bay Packers (Thursday) 7:30 pm NBC
Sept. 18 CHICAGO BEARS Noon FOX
Sept. 25 HOUSTON TEXANS Noon CBS
Oct. 2 at Jacksonville Jaguars Noon FOX
Oct. 9 at Carolina Panthers Noon FOX
Oct. 16 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3:15 pm FOX
Oct. 23 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 7:20 pm NBC
Oct. 30 at St. Louis Rams Noon FOX
Nov. 6 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS Noon FOX
Nov. 13 at Atlanta Falcons Noon* FOX
Nov. 20 BYE
Nov. 28 NEW YORK GIANTS (Monday) 7:30 pm ESPN
Dec. 4 DETROIT LIONS Noon* FOX
Dec. 11 at Tennessee Titans Noon* FOX
Dec. 18 at Minnesota Vikings Noon* FOX
Dec. 26 ATLANTA FALCONS (Monday) 7:30 pm ESPN
Jan. 1 CAROLINA PANTHERS Noon* FOX
*The season again will utilize "flexible scheduling" in weeks 10-15 and 17. In weeks 10-16, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights.
A look at the Saints' 2011 opponents, and dates:
at Green Bay Packers (Sept. 8): Game will be a matchup between the last two Super Bowl Champions…The Saints will be playing in the NFL's kickoff contest for the second consecutive season and for the third time in five seasons...New Orleans will be opening on the road for the first time since 2007…The Saints have won their last three season openers and four-of-five under head coach Sean Payton…Green Bay owns a 14-7 advantage in the series, but New Orleans has won three of the last four...In the last meeting on Monday, November 24, 2008, the Saints tied a single-game club record for scoring in a 51-29 win where QB Drew Brees threw four touchdown passes and RB Deuce McAllister scored his franchise-best 54th touchdown.
vs. Chicago Bears (Sept. 18): Chicago has 13-11 edge in the all-time regular season series…This will be the first time that the Bears come to the Louisiana Superdome since 2003 and since Payton became head coach…The Saints have a 4-2 record against the Bears in the Superdome.
vs. Houston Texans (Sept. 25): The Saints will face the Texans in both the 2011 preseason and regular season…While the two clubs have played in every preseason since 2008, preceded by joint practices, they've only met twice in the regular season since the Texans began play in 2002.
at Jacksonville Jaguars (Oct. 2): The Saints and Jaguars will square off for only the fifth time, with the two squads having split their four meetings, including a 41-24 Saints win at the Superdome in 2007…New Orleans will be making their first trip to Jacksonville since 2003, when in one of the most memorable final plays from scrimmage in NFL history, the Saints pulled off a 75-yard, three-lateral touchdown as time expired.
Carolina Panthers (at Oct. 9, vs. Jan. 1): The New Years Day contest between the clubs will mark the seventh time the two clubs have ended a regular season against each other since Carolina entered the league in 1995…The Panthers hold a 17-15 lead in the series, with the Saints coming off of their first sweep since 2001.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Oct. 16, vs. Nov. 16): New Orleans holds a 22-16 edge in the all-time series against the Buccaneers, the club's best winning percentage (.595) versus an NFL opponent…The two clubs have been frequent foes, even before divisional realignment in 2002…From 1977-2001, the Saints and Buccaneers met 20 times…New Orleans and Tampa Bay have split each season series since 2008.
vs. Indianapolis (Oct. 23): In a rematch of Super Bowl XLIV, the Saints and Colts will meet for the 11th time in the regular season…The last three regular season and postseason matchups between the Saints and Colts have all been nationally broadcast prime-time matchups.
at St. Louis Rams (Oct. 30): The Saints and Rams have played 69 times with St. Louis holding a 38-31 edge…New Orleans has only played their other old NFC West foes Atlanta (83) and San Francisco (71) more often…The Saints have won the last two meetings.
Atlanta Falcons (at Nov. 13, vs. Dec. 26): Atlanta holds a 45-38 regular-season advantage in the all-time series against the Saints, though New Orleans has won 8 of 10 meetings since Payton became Head Coach…Both meetings in 2010 were decided by three points; a Week three 27-24 overtime win by the Falcons at the Superdome and a Monday night 17-14 Saints win in Atlanta on December 27…The Saints have played the Falcons more than any other opponent…This will be the third consecutive year and sixth time in seven seasons that the two clubs have played on Monday Night Football.
vs. New York Giants (Nov. 28): The Giants hold a 14-11 edge in the all-time series, but New Orleans has won three of the last four contests, including the October 18, 2009 48-27 Saints win where Brees threw for 369 yards and tossed four touchdowns.
vs. Detroit Lions (Dec. 4): The Saints lead the all-time series 10-9-1…The clubs last met in the 2009 season opener, a 45-27 Saints victory at the Superdome, where Brees tied a single-game club record and tossed a career-best six touchdowns.
at Tennessee Titans (Dec. 11): Along with Houston, the Saints will face the Titans in both the preseason and regular season…Tennessee leads the series 7-4-1 and the Saints will be seeking their first win since 1993, when the Titans franchise was the Houston Oilers.