Saints Aints'

Friday, April 07, 2006

Saints Superdome Bound

A refurbished Louisiana Superdome will debut nationally when the New Orleans Saints host their traditional NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons Sept. 25 on Monday Night Football at 7:30 pm CT. The game, which will be broadcast nationally by ESPN, will be the first NFL regular season contest in the stadium since 2004. That game will kick off an eight-game home schedule for New Orleans in the Superdome.
The NFL announced the Saints' entire 2006 regular-season schedule today. The team's next home opponent is Oct. 8 vs. Tampa Bay at noon. That contest is part of a three-game homestand for New Orleans, followed by Philadelphia (Oct. 15) and Baltimore (Oct. 29 after the bye week). The Saints open the season at Cleveland (Sept. 10) for their first game at Cleveland Browns Stadium and follow with a trip to Green Bay Sept. 17.
The home opener promises to be a hard-fought contest. Atlanta leads the series 42-31 and took both contests last year, including a 34-31 thriller on a field goal as time expired on Oct. 16. Since 1990, the outcome has been decided by a touchdown or less 18 times.
Three of the Saints' first five games are against NFC South foes, including a trip to Carolina, Oct. 1. After taking on the Ravens at home, New Orleans travels to Tampa Bay (Nov. 5) and to Super Bowl XL champion Pittsburgh Steelers in the Saints' first trip to Heinz Field (Nov. 12).
The remaining home games for the Saints are as follows: vs. Cincinnati (Nov. 19), vs. San Francisco (Dec. 3), vs. Washington (Dec. 17) and the season finale against the Carolina Panthers on New Year's Eve (Dec. 31).
The club's remaining road contests include at Atlanta (Nov. 26), at Dallas (Dec. 10) and at the New York Giants (Dec. 24).
Other than the home opener, all home and away games are currently scheduled for Sundays at noon CT, though the NFL recently announced it will implement for the first time a primetime "flexible scheduling" element on Sundays in Weeks 10-15 and in Week 17. Flexible scheduling will ensure quality contests on Sunday night those weeks and give surprise teams a chance to play their way onto primetime.
The 2006 NFL schedule will list start times for all Sunday games during the "flex" weeks as noon CT, except for games played in the Mountain or Pacific Time zones, which will be listed at 3:05 pm CT or 3:15 pm CT. The NBC Sunday night time slot for "flex" weeks will list teams as "TBD." Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights.
The NFL has commonly moved games between Noon CT and 3:15 pm CT (eight times in 2005) on Sunday afternoons. The new practice allows the NFL to employ flexible scheduling to include one of its primetime package of games on Sunday evenings. As in the past, afternoon games can still be moved between noon and 3:05 or 3:15 pm CT. In Week 17, in order to ensure a Sunday night game with playoff implications, the decision to move the start time may be made with six days notice. CBS and FOX will each be able to protect a total of five games in the seven weeks of flexible scheduling, but not more than one game any week.
PRESEASON SCHEDULE FINALIZED: The four-game preseason schedule was also finalized on Thursday with the annoucement of game dates/times for the two road games at Tennessee (Aug. 12) and Kansas City (Aug. 31).
The Saints will open the preseason at the Titans on Saturday, Aug. 12 at 7 pm CT in The Coliseum in Nashville. Monday, Aug. 21, the Saints will host the Dallas Cowboys in Shreveport's Independence Stadium at 7 pm CT. Saturday, Aug. 26, the Saints host the Indianapolis Colts at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Miss. at 6 pm CT. New Orleans will conclude the preseason with a Thursday, Aug. 31 game at the Chiefs in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium at 7:30 pm CT.


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