The New Orleans Saints were a huge disappointment in 2012 due in large part to Bounty Gate. They had several players suspended early, and they were without head coach Sean Payton for the entire season. They would lose their first four games before winning five of their next six to get back in playoff contention. However, they dropped four of their final six games to finish a dismal 7-9 on the year.

There are no more excuses heading into 2013. Payton is back to call the shots this year. The offense remains explosive behind Drew Brees, but the defense needs to improve dramatically if this team wants to compete for an NFC South title. That’s a big reason why the Saints have brought on one of the best defensive coordinators in the league in Rob Ryan this offseason.

The schedule makers have done the Saints no favors, though. New Orleans will face the third-toughest schedule in the league in 2013. It will be up against opponents that combined for a 137-117-2 record and a 53.9 winning percentage last year. The Saints are set to do battle with the NFC West and AFC East divisions. They will also take on the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears, who each finished third in their respective divisions.

According to Cantor gaming, the Saints are expected to be a favorite in 10 games, an underdog in four, and a pick ’em in the other two. I believe Cantor is a little too high on the this team heading into 2013. They will not win 10 games in an improved NFC South division because their defense continues to hold them back. They will be improved from their 7-win campaign a year ago, but I don’t expect them to win more than 9 games in 2013.

New Orleans Saints 2013 Schedule

Week 1 – Sunday, September 8 vs Atlanta Falcons (1:00 ET)
Projected Line: -1.5

Week 2 – Sunday, September 15 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4:05 ET)
Projected Line: -1.5

Week 3 – Sunday, September 22 vs Arizona Cardinals (1:00 ET)
Projected Line: -7.5

Week 4 – Monday, September 30 vs Miami Dolphins (8:40 ET)
Projected Line: -4

Week 5 – Sunday, October 6 @ Chicago Bears (1:00 ET)
Projected Line: +1

Week 6 – Sunday, October 13 @ New England Patriots (4:25 ET)
Projected Line: +4

Week 7 – BYE WEEK

Week 8 – Sunday, October 27 vs Buffalo Bills (1:00 ET)
Projected Line: -6.5

Week 9 – Sunday, November 3 @ New York Jets (1:00 ET)
Projected Line: -1.5

Week 10 – Sunday, November 10 vs Dallas Cowboys (8:30 ET)
Projected Line: -4

Week 11 – Sunday, November 17 vs San Francisco 49ers (4:25 ET)
Projected Line: PK

Week 12 – Thursday, November 21 @ Atlanta Falcons (8:25 ET)
Projected Line: +2.5

Week 13 – Monday, December 2 @ Seattle Seahawks (8:40 ET)
Projected Line: +3.5

Week 14 – Sunday, December 8 vs Carolina Panthers (1:00 ET)
Projected Line: -3.5

Week 15 – Sunday, December 15 @ St. Louis Rams (1:00 ET)
Projected Line: -1.5

Week 16 – Sunday, December 22 @ Carolina Panthers (1:00 ET)
Projected Line: PK

Week 17 – Sunday, December 29 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1:00 ET)
Projected Line: -5.5

More NFL Team Schedules

AFC West AFC North AFC South AFC East
Kansas City Chiefs Pittsburgh Steelers Indianapolis Colts New England Patriots
San Diego Chargers Baltimore Ravens Jacksonville Jaguars New York Jets
Oakland Raiders Cleveland Browns Houston Texans Miami Dolphins
Denver Broncos Cincinnati Bengals Tennessee Titans Buffalo Bills
NFC West NFC North NFC South NFC East
Seattle Seahawks Chicago Bears Atlanta Falcons Philadelphia Eagles
St. Louis Rams Green Bay Packers New Orleans Saints New York Giants
San Francisco 49ers Detroit Lions Tampa Bay Buccaneers Dallas Cowboys
Arizona Cardinals Minnesota Vikings Carolina Panthers Washington Redskins