New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints have lost five of their last six games on the road heading into today’s playoff game at Philadelphia. (Reuters)
The New Orleans Saints think they have a couple of ways to change their bad luck on the road, where they dropped five of six games since early October, going into the postseason.
When the Saints clinched their playoff berth last Sunday with a 42-17 blowout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the players had already figured out what they will do to hopefully turn things around.
The Saints (11-5) know that they’ll have to take care of the ball, which has been a problem for them on the road, when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) in an NFC wild-card game today in Lincoln Financial Field.
While it’s no joking matter, the Saints were ready when the questions about their 3-5 road record came. They say changing their warm-up suits, the color of their sports drink and the choice of Drew Brees’ favorite meal the night before the game will do it.
They were only kidding, of course.
The road problems cost the Saints a chance to earn a top-two seed and a first-round bye as well as at least one game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where they were 8-0 this season for the second time in three years.
They know it’s going to take a concerted effort on both sides of the football, especially when it comes to an offense that has committed 10 turnovers in their last five road losses.
Four of those giveaways contributed to early 17-0 deficits in Seattle and St. Louis, which resulted in 34-7 and 27-16 losses, respectively.
So hanging on to the football and keeping it out of the hands of Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense is more important than what they where or what they eat and drink.
Saints coach Sean Payton said that offense will be the most difficult part of the road trip because it’s hard to simulate in practice.
“The pace is extremely, extremely fast, and so we will have our work cut out for us this week with just trying to replicate or get the same look as our scout team offense,” said Payton, who’s 0-3 in road playoff games since taking over in 2006.
“There is a lot of variety,” he said of Kelly’s offense. “You have to defend the whole field. They can attack you down the field.”