Why New Orleans Saints Can't Win a Super Bowl Without Home-Field Advantage

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Why New Orleans Saints Can't Win a Super Bowl Without Home-Field Advantage
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In nine total playoff appearances, the New Orleans Saints have played five road postseason games. They have lost all five and won't ever be considered Super Bowl favorites unless they get home-field advantage.

When the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV over the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in the 2009-10 NFL season, they were the NFC's No. 1 seed and didn't need to worry about playing on the road.

After all, even before the 2009 season began, New Orleans was still 0-3 in playoff road games.

The first came in 1990. There, the Saints played at the Chicago Bears and were shutdown in a defensive battle 16-6. It was freezing weather conditions and New Orleans couldn't run or throw the ball effectively.

In short, it wasn't surprising to see a dome team lose on the road to a team like Chicago in January.

Ten years later, New Orleans was once again playing on the road, but this time, after getting the franchise's first postseason win over the St. Louis Rams in the Wild Card Round. The divisional game was at Minnesota,

The Vikings got out to a fast start and rarely let up. Down 17-3 at the half, Minnesota kept rolling with receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss while the Saints defense couldn't stop them. The Vikings went up 27-10 going into the fourth quarter and won 34-16.

To this point, although it's only been two road playoff games, New Orleans struggled to establish any sort of ground game regardless of whether the contest was outside in the cold or in a dome, and the defense cost them greatly. Well, that unfortunately hasn't changed either.

In their first NFC championship game, New Orleans had to play at Chicago in tough weather conditions. Despite only being down 18-14 when the fourth quarter began, New Orleans had no chance at winning.

The Saints ended up losing 39-14, and a big reason was because they only amassed 56 rushing yards on 12 carries, something that should have been more. Much like the Bears did, New Orleans' best chance was to move the ball on the ground.

In horrid weather conditions, Drew Brees may have thrown for over 350 yards, but the Saints still turned the ball over four times and Brees had 22 incompletions. If you establish a solid running game in bad weather, you give yourself a chance.

Chicago ran the ball 46 times for almost 200 yards on the ground, so not only did that prove to be the better game plan, but the Saints defense failed to show up for a full game.

Move ahead to their Wild Card game against Seattle and once again they had no running game while the defense failed to show up again.

Once again Drew Brees had another big day, but the running game had only 77 rushing yards on 22 carries. On the flip side, Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw for four TDs on 272 yards and running back Marshawn Lynch slammed the Saints for 131 yards on just 19 attempts.

And once again this season at San Francisco, the Saints failed to attempt/establish the running game and the defense croaked. With the running game just getting 37 rushing yards on 14 attempts, Drew Brees was forced to throw the ball 63 times.

Now yes, he was once again impressive. However, the defense allowed over 400 total yards and 13 points in the game's final minutes.

As you can see, the common denominator between the New Orleans Saints and road playoff games is the lack to attempt/establish a running game and a defense that fails to perform for 60 minutes, as well as in crunch time.

It's without a doubt that Drew Brees is a great quarterback to have under center in the waning minutes, but the offense scoring doesn't matter if the defense doesn't show up, much like the rushing attack for a full game.

And until New Orleans can become at least an average defense while establishing the run early, they will never win a road playoff game. Hence, they only go to a Super Bowl game when they have home-field advantage.

 

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