The official 2012 NFL Schedule has been released and now we know when and where our favorite teams will be facing off in the upcoming season. Right now, the New Orleans Saints are without mastermind head coach Sean Payton and for portions of the 2012 regular season they will be without GM Mickey Loomis and current interim coach Joe Vitt. The Saints also have no picks in Rounds 1 and 2 of the upcoming draft, and could still lose key defensive players to suspensions in the seemingly never-ending bounty scandal - not to mention a franchise quarterback who still hasn't been signed yet.

As if the Saints needed any more woes to add to their plate, their 2012 schedule is one of the hardest in the league. To make matters worse, the NFC South has become a lot tougher. Much needed coaching changes have been made in Tampa Bay along with the addition of Saints Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks and former San Diego Charger Vincent Jackson at wide receiver. The Carolina Panthers improved four games last year with rookie quarterback Cam Newton and look for him to be even better this season. The hated Atlanta Falcons have a minimal change from their cakewalk of a 2011 schedule where they went 10-6, and on paper it seems as if they have the best chance of winning the NFC South in 2012.

Things don't get any easier outside of the NFC South for New Orleans. The Saints out-of-division schedule include opponents in the NFC East and the AFC West. The Denver Broncos are in the AFC West and in case you missed one of the biggest free agent moves in NFL history, they recently got themselves a new quarterback.

This means that during the course of the 2012 NFL regular season the New Orleans Saints' defense will face Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Michael Vick, Phillip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Josh Freeman and defending Super Bowl Champion Eli Manning. Yikes.

Now that we know who we are facing, let's see when we are playing them.

New Orleans Saints 2012 NFL Regular Season Schedule

Notable Matchups

  • Sunday, Sept. 9 (Noon) - Regular Season Opener vs. Washington Redskins - (HOME)
  • Sunday, Sept. 30 (3:15) - vs. Green Bay Packers - (AWAY)
  • Sunday, Oct. 7 (7:20p) - Sunday Night Football vs. San Diego Chargers - (HOME)
  • Sunday, Oct. 28 (7:20p) - Sunday Night Football vs. Denver Broncos - (AWAY)
  • Monday, Nov. 5 (7:30p) - Monday Night Football vs. Philadelphia Eagles - (HOME)
  • Sunday, Nov. 11 (Noon) - vs. Atlanta Falcons - (HOME)
  • Sunday, Nov. 25 (3:15p) - vs. San Francisco 49ers - (HOME)
  • Thursday, Nov. 29 (7:20p) - Thursday Night Football vs. Atlanta Falcons - (AWAY)
  • Sunday, Dec. 9 (3:15p) - vs. NY Giants - (AWAY)
  • Sunday, Dec. 23 (Noon) - vs. Dallas Cowboys - (AWAY)

See the complete 2012 NFL Regular Season Schedule here.

[via NFL]