Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Saints morning report: Home sweet home
By Mike Triplett
After a dreadful loss in Seattle on Monday night, there is no better time and place for the New Orleans Saints (9-3) to get back on track than prime time in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints will be looking for their 13th consecutive victory in a home night game when they host the Carolina Panthers in Sunday night’s showcase game on NBC. The Saints have won 12 straight night games at home, including the playoffs - and 15 of their last 16 - by an average margin of nearly 20 points per game.
New Orleans’ last prime-time home game was four weeks ago, when it routed the Dallas Cowboys 49-17. The Saints are 6-0 in all home games this season. And they’ve won 15 straight home games with Sean Payton as their coach, including the playoffs (not counting the games when he was suspended).
Of course, all streaks come to an end sometime. The Saints had won nine straight games on “Monday Night Football” before suffering a 34-7 loss in Seattle on Monday. But based on their track record, this prime-time home winning streak will be harder to break than most.
Here’s the list of the Saints’ last 16 home night games:
Speedy recovery? Obviously it’s challenging for NFL teams to bounce back on a short week after playing on the road on “Monday Night Football.” And the last two times the Saints had to deal with such a schedule, they lost the next game (both in 2010: a Monday night win at San Francisco in Week 2 followed by a home loss to Atlanta, then a Monday night win at Atlanta in Week 16 followed by a home loss to Tampa Bay).
But when I asked ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau to put that challenge in historical context, I was surprised by the results. According to Elias, over the past 20 years, teams actually have a .568 winning percentage in the week after playing on the road on MNF.
(I didn’t ask Elias how many of those games included the team’s plane breaking down and forcing them to fly back home day later – like what happened with the Saints in Seattle on Monday night.)
Worth a click:
ESPN’s Panthers reporter David Newton had a great breakdown of quarterback Cam Newton’s 56-yard run last week – including how receiver Steve Smith played a key blocking role and how Newton’s scrambling ability could cause headaches for the Saints. ... Find all of your Carolina updates throughout the week here at ESPN’s Panthers team page. And follow David on Twitter @DNewtonESPN.
It’s always fun to play around with ESPN.com’s Playoff Machine, which gives you the chance to see how the playoff races will play out, depending on your predicted regular-season results.