ROAD WARRIORS: Saints Shot at Super Bowl Might Be Better Away From NOLA


Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

Nashville, Tennessee. It’s the home to some of Country Music’s biggest and brightest stars in popular American culture. But tomorrow afternoon at Nissan Stadium at approximately 12:00 p.m. — in that city’s home of the Tennessee Titans football team — it’s where the (11-3) New Orleans Saints will be seeking to further their hold on to maintaining one of the NFC’s top Playoff seeds, when the NFL Playoffs begin on the first weekend of January.

But despite playing in what many NFL observers and analysts might consider to be a “hostile environment”, the Black and Gold might just be a whole lot better off not only playing that game tomorrow at Nashville, but maybe even away from the city of New Orleans altogether.

Simply put: for whatever reason, this current Saints team seems to excel unlike any other previous Saints teams away from the cozy confines of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans in their past two seasons (last season and this season) have actually won more games away from their home stadium, where they have compiled a win-loss record in New Orleans of (12-4) overall.

Dating back all the way back to last season, the Saints have won 12 out of their last 14 games on the road; an impressive (12-2) record that by comparison is the best stretch of success that they’ve ever enjoyed in the franchise’s entire 53-year history, dating back to their Super Bowl run of nearly 10 seasons ago.

The 2009 World Champion Saints went (7-1) on the road that year, and followed that next season in 2010 with a (6-2) road record for an overall two-year record of (13-3) that still remains as the best stretch of success away from New Orleans ever, all the way up until the current moment as you read this article this morning.

That certainly would seem to bode quite well for a Saints team that has only one lost one single game on the road this season, which of course was the game in which future Hall of Famer and veteran QB Drew Brees tore the thumb ligament on his right throwing hand midway through the 1st Quarter in the team’s 27-9 loss to the Rams at Los Angeles back in Week #2.

And if not for an early whistle that negated what would have been a momentum-shifting 87-yard sack. strip, and fumble recovery run for a defensive touchdown by Saints All-Pro tight end Cameron Jordan in that contest, the Saints might not have been beaten on the road at all this season PERIOD — as well as not having lost a single game on the road since the infamous “Minneapolis Miracle” in the NFC 2017 Divisional Playoff loss against the Minnesota Vikings nearly two years ago.

And that was on a ‘freak play’ of all things, when then-Saints rookie and now current 3rd year free safety Marcus Williams missed making a game-saving tackle on Vikings WR Stefon Diggs that would have allowed them to advance to play on the road the following week at Philadelphia against the Eagles.

Philadelphia then ended up beating Minnesota in the 2018 NFC Championship Game there at Lincoln Financial Field in Philly before eventually going on to beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII (53) two seasons ago.

Bottom line: this current Saints team has the capability to beat any opponent, at any place and at NFL stadium, and at any time.

Credit: New Orleans Saints Twitter

The only question now with two regular season games remaining is: will they actually have to?

With the Saints having already clinched their 3rd consecutive NFC South Division Championship, they cannot finish any worse than the #3 overall seed — which would guarantee that they’d host an opening Wild Card Playoff game at the Superdome in two weeks from tomorrow, which as of now would be against the current #6 seed Vikings.

That means that IF (and only if) the Saints end up having to play any games on the road in the Playoffs, it would be against any one of three possible teams: the current #1 seed and NFC West Division-leading Seattle Seahawks (who the Saints have already beaten back in Week #3 at CenturyLink Field at Seattle), the #2 seed Green Bay Packers (who New Orleans would face at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin) or the current #5 seed San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Field in Santa Clara, California.

The 49ers have already previously beaten the Saints by a score of 48-46 head-to-head at the Superdome two weeks ago; and because they own the tie-breaker against the Black and Gold, they could end up hosting the Saints if they finish with the same or better won-loss record than the Saints by winning their division (the NFC West) over the Seahawks.

To make a long story short: there’s only 3 places where the Saints’ chances at making it all the way to their preferred travel destination of Hard Rock Stadium at Miami, Florida to play in Super Bowl LIV (54) would possibly come to an end: winning a road NFC Playoff game in the Pacific Northwest, the Northern California / San Francisco Bay area, or the “frozen tundra” of the upper Midwest in the state of Wisconsin.

That doesn’t mean necessarily of course that the Saints can’t (or wouldn’t) be better off getting to play any more additional games at the Superdome in this year’s upcoming Playoffs, but it obviously couldn’t hurt them either.

But clearly the Saints seem to have evolved into a team which over the course of the past two years, seems to relish beating their opponents on the road at their own home stadiums, even more so than when they’re playing host to them down in NOLA.

Tomorrow at Nashville and then once again next Sunday when the Saints travel to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina to face their NFC South Division rivals the Panthers. we’ll see if that’s a trend that continues to last into the coming weeks ahead.

Make no mistake about this much: the 2019 New Orleans Saints definitely have a great chance once again at getting to (and hopefully finally winning) the Super Bowl.

It just happens to be the same venue where they won their one and only previous Super Bowl at, nearly a decade ago.

The only question now is: is there a better chance that they’d make it all the way to Miami by doing so as “road warriors” — instead of getting there by winning inside the comforts of their own home….

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

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