Saints 2014 Schedule Breakdown

Week 1: at Atlanta

WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 7

TIME: Noon. TV: Fox

NEED TO KNOW: After losing both games to the Falcons from 1995 to 1999, the Saints have swept the season series from their division rivals seven times since 2000 and will attempt to get a leg up again in the first of their two meetings.

FALCONS IN 2013: 4-12, third in NFC South

ALL-TIME SERIES: Falcons lead 46-43

LAST MEETING: Saints 17-13 (2013)

Week 2: at Cleveland

WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 14

TIME: Noon. TV: Fox

NEED TO KNOW: Eight years later, Sean Payton returns to the scene of his first game as an NFL head coach following nine seasons as an assistant. The Saints topped the Browns 19-14 in the 2006 season opener and went on to finish 10-6.

BROWNS IN 2013: 4-12, fourth in AFC North

ALL-TIME SERIES: Browns lead 12-4

LAST MEETING: Browns 30-17 (2010)

Week 3: Minnesota

WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 21

TIME: Noon. TV: Fox

NEED TO KNOW: The Vikings, one of four Saints’ 2014 opponents to have new head coaches, will travel to New Orleans for the first time since the Saints celebrated their Super Bowl XLIV victory with a 14-9 win in the 2010 season opener.

VIKINGS IN 2013: 5-10-1, fourth in NFC North

ALL-TIME SERIES: Vikings lead 18-9

LAST MEETING: Saints 42-20 (2011)

Week 4: at Dallas

WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 28

TIME: 7:30 p.m. TV: NBC

NEED TO KNOW: The Cowboys owned this series for years, but the Saints have rebounded to claim eight of the past nine meetings — with two of them coming in dramatic late-game fashion at the site of this year’s matchup in “Jerry’s World.”

COWBOYS IN 2013: 8-8, second in NFC East

ALL-TIME SERIES: Cowboys lead 15-11

LAST MEETING: Saints 49-17 (2013)

Week 5: Tampa Bay

WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 5

TIME: Noon. TV: Fox*

NEED TO KNOW: The Bucs have a new coach in Lovie Smith, who was a Saints’ nemesis during his years with the Bears. Smith won four of five meetings with the Saints, including a 39-14 victory in the 2006 NFC Championship game.

BUCCANEERS IN 2013: 4-12, fourth in NFC South

ALL-TIME SERIES: Saints lead 27-17

LAST MEETING: Saints 42-17 (2013)

Week 7: at Detroit

WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 19

TIME: Noon. TV: Fox*

NEED TO KNOW: The Saints have won four consecutive games against the Lions, a stretch that includes a crushing 45-28 victory in a wild-card playoff game after the 2011 season. The Saints also won 42-7 in their last visit to Ford Field in 2008.

LIONS IN 2013: 7-9, third in NFC North

ALL-TIME SERIES: Lions lead 11-9-1

LAST MEETING: Saints 31-17 (2011)

Week 8: Green Bay

WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 26

TIME: 7:30 p.m. TV: NBC*

NEED TO KNOW: The champions of Super Bowl XLIV (the Saints) and XLV (Packers) will meet for the third time since they won their titles. The Packers prevailed in both of those games, which were played in Lambeau Field, in 2011 and ’12.

PACKERS IN 2013: 8-7-1, first in NFC North

ALL-TIME SERIES: Packers lead 16-7

LAST MEETING: Packers 28-27 (2012)

Week 9: at Carolina

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 30

TIME: 7:25 p.m. TV: NFL Network

NEED TO KNOW: The Saints should have extra motivation for the first of two meetings with the Panthers considering Carolina made a late charge last season to capture the NFC South title, forcing Payton’s team to go on the road for the playoffs.

PANTHERS IN 2013: 12-4, first in NFC South

ALL-TIME SERIES: Panthers lead 20-18

LAST MEETING: Panthers 17-13 (2013)

Week 10: San Francisco

WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 9*

TIME: Noon. TV: Fox

NEED TO KNOW: The old NFC West rivals, who played twice a year from 1970-2001, will meet for the third consecutive season in New Orleans. The 49ers won in 2011, but the Saints shut down Colin Kaepernick in a 23-20 win last Nov. 16.

49ERS IN 2013: 12-4, second in NFC West

ALL-TIME SERIES: 49ers lead 46-25-2

LAST MEETING: Saints 23-20 (2013)

Week 11: Cincinnati

WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 16*

TIME: Noon. TV: CBS

NEED TO KNOW: In their last trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2006, the Bengals had things going their way in an easy 31-16 victory over the Saints. But the Saints evened the score with a 34-30 win in Paul Brown Stadium in 2010.

BENGALS IN 2013: 11-5, first in AFC North

ALL-TIME SERIES: Tied 6-6

LAST MEETING: Saints 34-30 (2010)

Week 12: Baltimore

WHEN: Monday, Nov. 24

TIME: 7:30 p.m. TV: ESPN

NEED TO KNOW: Payton gets another shot at knocking off one of only two teams he hasn’t beaten as a head coach. The Ravens won their only meetings in 2006 and 2010. The only other team Payton hasn’t defeated is the Broncos.

RAVENS IN 2013: 8-8, third in AFC North

ALL-TIME SERIES: Ravens lead 4-1

LAST MEETING: Ravens 30-24 (2010)

Week 13: at Pittsburgh

WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 30*

TIME: Noon. TV: Fox

NEED TO KNOW: Making only their second visit to Heinz Field, the Saints will try to keep Ben Roethlisberger from teaming up with one of their former teammates — wide receiver Lance Moore — after he was let go because of salary-cap issues.

STEELERS IN 2013: 8-8, second in AFC North

ALL-TIME SERIES: Tied 7-7

LAST MEETING: Saints 20-10 (2010)

Week 14: Carolina

WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 7*

TIME: Noon. TV: Fox

NEED TO KNOW: The Panthers have been tough on the Saints since Payton’s arrival in 2006, winning seven of their 14 meetings. Payton did win five in a row with sweeps in 2010 and ’11 and a victory in their first matchup last December.

PANTHERS IN 2013: 12-4, first in NFC South

ALL-TIME SERIES: Panthers lead 20-18

LAST MEETING: Panthers 17-13 (2013)

Week 15: at Chicago

WHEN: Monday, Dec. 15

TIME: 7:30 p.m. TV: ESPN

NEED TO KNOW: Prior to their 26-18 win over the Bears last Oct. 6 in Soldier Field, the stadium was a house of horrors as the Saints lost in the 2006 NFC Championship game and also had regular-season setbacks in 2007 and ’08.

BEARS IN 2013: 8-8, second in NFC North

ALL-TIME SERIES: Tied 13-13

LAST MEETING: Saints 26-18 (2013)

Week 16: Atlanta

WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 21*

TIME: Noon. TV: Fox

NEED TO KNOW: Payton will try to continue his mastery over the Falcons, a team he’s defeated 12 times in 14 tries since joining the Saints in 2006, when these long-time rivals get together for the 92nd time (counting the postseason).

FALCONS IN 2013: 4-12, third in NFC South

ALL-TIME SERIES: Falcons lead 46-43

LAST MEETING: Saints 17-13 (2013)

Week 17: at Tampa Bay

WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 28*

TIME: Noon. TV: Fox

NEED TO KNOW: The Saints will try to continue their solid play in Tampa, where they’ve won eight times in 12 visits to Raymond James Stadium since the two teams were placed in the newly-formed NFC South when the NFL realigned in 2002.

BUCCANEERS IN 2013: 4-12, fourth in NFC South

ALL-TIME SERIES: Saints lead 27-17

LAST MEETING: Saints 42-17 (2013)

* subject to flex scheduling