METAIRIE, La. – The New Orleans Saints have been as dominant as ever at home this season, winning all five of their games by an average score of 35-15. The Saints (7-2) will try to add to that streak Sunday when they host the San Francisco 49ers (6-3).
The streak is even more impressive when you take away coach Sean Payton’s absence during his season-long suspension last year. The Saints were a perfect 9-0 under Payton in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2011, including the playoffs. (Last year, they were 4-4 at home).
Quarterback Drew Brees’ statistics inside the Superdome are ridiculous. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Brees has thrown at least two touchdown passes in 21 consecutive home games – one of his many NFL records.
This year, Brees has thrown 18 touchdown passes at home, with just two interceptions. In three of those games he threw at least four touchdown passes with no interceptions.
Brees’ TD/INT ratio of plus-16 puts him on pace to break another one of his own NFL records. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Brees’ TD/INT ratio of plus-23 inside the Dome in 2011 was the best in NFL history.
Home bodies? The home-vs.-away topic has been a big one surrounding the Saints recently, since they just got done losing 26-20 in a sloppy performance at the New York Jets in Week 9, followed by a dominant 49-17 victory at home over Dallas in Week 10. It’s also a big topic since the Saints are currently chasing Seattle (9-1) in the NFC standings. And the Seahawks are also known for having one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL.
Although the Saints do have the best road record in the NFL since 2009 (23-13), they’d still clearly like to earn home-field advantage in the playoffs this season. The last time they did that, in '09, they won the Super Bowl. During the Brees/Payton era, they’re 4-0 at home and 0-3 on the road in the postseason.
“I think it’s important for any team. Certainly it has served us well. It’s something you always strive for,” Brees said of home-field advantage. “Obviously that’s a long way away. But in the past when we have gone on the road in the playoffs, the mindset has been no different. The preparation has been no different. Unfortunately we haven’t been that successful on the road in the playoffs as we have at home. But it’s not like we dread going on the road. Not one bit. I would say that if you would look at our road record over the past eight years, and that’s a pretty big study or big profile, I’d say we’ve been pretty good.”
The Saints lost playoff games at Chicago after the 2006 season, at Seattle after the 2010 season and at San Francisco after the 2011 season.
“I think the record shows that we’re a lot better at home,” Saints guard Jahri Evans said with a laugh. “It’s a lot of energy in the building, in the Dome, especially in night games. And we feed off that as a team.”
Payton has always made it clear, though, that he feels the Saints have proven their ability to win on the road over the years – those playoff losses aside. When asked this week how much better the Saints are at home than on the road, Payton said, “Tell me who we’re playing.”
“I think it’s more opponent-based,” Payton explained. “I think that there is an element that every team has to playing at home, starting with the crowd noise. I think that is significant in our case because of the indoor stadium. But I think if you are going to be a good team, you have to play well on the road. And it is something that we have been able to do, especially in the seasons that we have been a playoff team.”
Worth a click:
It’s unanimous: ESPN’s panel of analysts all agree that the Saints will keep their home streak alive this Sunday.
San Francisco pass-rusher Aldon Smith is expected to play “a lot” against the Saints after a limited workload last week. For more on Smith and the Saints-49ers matchup, be sure to check out my Double Coverage conversation with 49ers reporter Bill Williamson later Friday morning.
More from Williamson: Former LSU safety Eric Reid is hoping a concussion won’t keep him from realizing his “dream” of playing in the Superdome.
Longtime Times-Picayune great Peter Finney, already a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, will take his place in the Saints Hall of Fame on Sunday. Former Saints defensive lineman La’Roi Glover will also be inducted.
Brees announced that his Brees Dream Foundation will donate $250,000 to the Team Gleason House for people diagnosed with neuromuscular disorders such as ALS.