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Not so Super: Can the New Orleans Saints get their Dome swagger back?

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to say the Saints were powerful at home. Can they reclaim that title?

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

From 2006-2011, the New Orleans Saints went 32-16 at home, which amounts to winning 67 percent of their games. They hit a major stride from 2008-2011 by going 25-7 at the now Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and developed a reputation across the league as being one of the hardest places to play in. With Sean Payton out of the mix in 2012, the team only mustered a 4-4 record with interim coaches Aaron Kromer and Joe Vitt, but were able to return to form by going undefeated (8-0) in 2013 for the second time in Sean Payton’s tenure.

Since the end of 2013, the Saints have been fairly disappointing at home. A combined 7-11 record in front of the Dome crowd from 2014 to now isn’t what fans expect to see, and it’s easy to place blame on the defense. Since 2014, the Saints have allowed 31 points per game while scoring an average of 28 points in their past 18 home stands.

Home Records by Season

  • 2006 (4-4)
  • 2007 (3-5)
  • 2008 (6-2)
  • 2009 (6-2)
  • 2010 (5-3)
  • 2011 (8-0)
  • 2012 (4-4)
  • 2013 (8-0)
  • 2014 (3-5)
  • 2015 (4-4)

It’s been well over two years since the Saints have allowed less than double digits at home (9 to the Minnesota Vikings). In fact, there’s only been four games in the past 18 they’ve allowed 25 points or less. It’s been that bad.

Here’s a more in-depth glimpse at the team’s home performance during the 7-11 stretch. What automatically jumps out to me is the 2015 starts in which the Saints outscored their opponents 80-30 in the first quarter. Naturally, they lost half of those games.

The Saints at home

After digging a little deeper, I found it interesting that the Saints have started with the ball first in 15 of their last 18 home games. They’ve had 44 total drives in the first quarter, and Sean Payton’s methodology of starting with the ball isn’t exactly proven. If you take the games in which they started with the ball (15), then the Saints breakdown has been six touchdowns, a field goal, three turnovers, five punts, and one turnover on downs. So, you can look at it like the Saints have a 47 percent success rate (7-for-15).

The three games in which they didn’t start the ball resulted in two touchdown drives and a turnover. In total, the Saints have had three 3-and-outs and turned it over in three plays or less three times in this stretch. Even if you add in those touchdowns, the past 18 opening drives at home still results in a 50 percent success rate (9-for-18).

Then there’s the dreaded double-score swing that’s happened, which is when the Saints surrender a score at the end of the half and then give up another to start the third quarter. After charting it over the last 18 home games, it’s happened six times. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but the bigger issue might be with the team surrendering some type of score in 11-of-18 drives to the opposition in their first possession of the second half. Teams have scored eight touchdowns and three field goals on the Saints defense in that stretch, with them only getting one turnover in the process.

With the Saints starting 0-2 at home this season, it obviously would be a point of emphasis for the team to get a win over the Carolina Panthers to change their misfortune. With this being a divisional clash and signs of desperation for both sides, I’d fully expect something similar to last year’s shootout.