Throughout the entire 2013 NFL regular season, the Saints have commonly been known as a "dome team" that doesn't play well on the road. Personally, I think the fact that this statement is consistently the only reason the Saints are predicted to lose on the road is a bunch of buffoonery, but we definitely won't shy away from the truth. The Saints score an average of 34 points at home while the average is only 17.8 points per game on the road. So certainly you can't blame people for picking against the Black & Gold, but the entire story is unfortunately being left out.
A 3-5 record on the road certainly isn't desirable, but it isn't as bad as people are making it out to be, especially given the talent the Saints have faced on the road. Let's start out by looking at the Saints' road opponents. The Saints faced (in order) the Buccaneers, Bears, Patriots, Jets, Falcons, Seahawks, Rams, and Panthers on the road. Three of these teams (Patriots, Seahawks, and Panthers) made it to the playoffs, and none of these teams are seeded lower than second in their respective conferences.
Because the Saints have a larger drop off in offensive production when they leave the Benz™, let's take a look at their opponents' points allowed numbers. The Seahawks, to begin with, finished the season allowing the least points per game with 14.4, the Panthers finished second in the NFL with 15.1 points allowed per game, and the remaining road opponents finished as follows: the Patriots finished tenth in the NFL (21.1), the Rams finished thirteenth in the NFL (22.8), the Jets finished nineteenth in the NFL (24.2), the Buccaneers finished twenty-first in the NFL (24.3), the Falcons finished twenty-seventh in the NFL (27.7), and the Bears finished thirtieth in the NFL (29.9).
The Saints have also faced some of the best pass rushing teams on the road this year (final NFL rankings will be in parentheses). The Panthers (1st), Rams (3rd), Patriots (5th), Seahawks (tied for 8th), and Jets (tied for 13th) all finished with over 40 sacks and in the upper half of the league in sacks. More than half of the opponents that they played on the road in 2013 finished in the top half of the league in this category, and the Eagles finished 20th in the league with 37 sacks.
Finally in the Saints' corner, let's look at how the teams that the Saints played on the road finished at home. The team's records at home will be in parentheses: Patriots (8-0), Seahawks (7-1), Panthers (7-1), Jets (6-2), Bears (5-3), Rams (5-3), Falcons (3-5), Buccaneers (3-5). All of the teams that the Saints faced on the road finished with either the same or better (mostly better) home record than the Saints' road record. Take that information for what you may, but the teams that the Saints faced on the road largely were dominant at home.
Wild Card Must Reads
In order to for the Saints to prove they can win their first-ever road-playoff game, their first objective has to be to slow down Eagles running back LeSean "Shady" McCoy.
Wild Card Must Reads
Now let's move over to the Eagles. The Eagles are one of the NFL's hottest teams right now and are not a pushover by any means. But a lot of information about this Eagles team is being side-stepped. First off, the Eagles finished 4-4 at home, which is only one game better than the Saints' 3-5 road record. How does one game dismiss them from a conversation of Philadelphia's home woes? Even funnier, the Eagles started 0-4 at home. The only home games that they were able to win came against Washington, Arizona, Detroit, and Chicago, all whom missed the playoffs. Even more funny, the only home game that the Eagles played that came against an eventual playoff team was against the fifth seed Kansas City Chiefs, and they lost. So to me, the Eagles are just as bad, if not worse, at home as the Saints are on the road.
Like I said, nothing needs to be taken away from what Philadelphia has done this season (actually, that is being done successfully right now). They have had an impressive offense this entire year, but who all have they played in their so called "hot streak" in the second half of the season? The Raiders, the Packers, the Redskins, the Cardinals, the Lions, the Vikings, the Bears, and the Cowboys, that's who. Every single one of these teams missed the playoffs except for the Packers who limped in at 8-7-1. Only two of these teams (Cardinals and Lions) finished better than 16th in the NFL in points allowed per game, and again, both of them missed the playoffs. Therefore, they didn't exactly face vaunted defenses in this stretch.
Finally, let's finish the fact that two of the Saints' road losses came in the closing minutes of the game. The Saints lost to the Patriots and Panthers with 5 and 23 seconds remaining in the game respectively. Had the Saints won both of those games, which would've been just as likely, they would have been 5-3 on the road and road woes wouldn't even be a topic of discussion at this point because they would be hosting their first playoff game next week. Yes, what happened happened, but it is just comical that the term "road woes" is has been given to a team due to the difference of 28 total seconds in two games.
So go ahead, ESPN and talking heads around the world. Take Philadelphia at home because your opinion matters just as much as mine. But don't feed the public with half-ass information. Stop it.