“If you can dodge a wrench, then you can dodge a ball,” growled Patches O’Houlihan before hurling a sack of heavy metal tools at his team while preparing them to compete in the movie Dodgeball.
And that is precisely what the Saints did in Philadelphia last Saturday. While the Who Dat faithful who braved the foul January Philadelphia weather and the foul in all seasons Philadelphia fans, the Black and Gold escaped the first round of NFL playoffs with the franchise’s first ever post-season win on the road in less than ideal conditions with a 25 degree temperature at kickoff.
Though we all remember what happened in early December in Seattle though we’d rather forget it, the Saints proved that they could get over what Newsday eloquently called their “agoraphobia.”
The folks at NFL.com are not so sure, having posted a web video promo for the game produced like a horror movie preview with eerie music playing in the background, unflattering film captures of Saints quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Jimmy Graham wearing fearful countenances and of course footage of Marshawn Lynch’s “beast mode” run from the 2010 season’s playoff game.
Granted the Saints’ two previous trips to the Pacific Northwest have resulted in losses of 41-36 and 34-7.
And the Seahawks’ open-rain stadium, CenturyLink Field is a challenging place to play, particularly due to the deafening noise generated by the Seahawks’ “12th man.”
But the Saints head up to the Emerald City with a little bit more than Popeyes chicken, new sweats and different Gatorade.
The Saints have recent experience playing in the hostile environment, they know what to expect and are going to play like they’ve been there before.
The Saints have also rediscovered their running game, gaining a remarkable 185 yards on the ground in the wild card playoff game at Philadelphia last Saturday. In the regular season the Saints’ ranked 25th in the NFL, averaging 92.1 rushing yards per game.
And part of that success can be attributed to better play by the Saints’ offensive line and rookie tackle Terron Armstead’s acclimation to starting in the NFL.
And since the December matchup with the Saints the Seahawks discovered something about themselves: they can be beaten at home. Arizona Cardinals, a dome-team the Saints demolished in Week Three, went into Seattle and snapped the Seahawks’ 14-game home winning streak.
Weather conditions in Seattle during the regular season game were miserable, a mixture of cold rain and then snow and they’re not going to be any better for this Saturday’s divisional round game where there’s a 100% chance of heavy showers prior to the game with 30-50 mph wind gusts expected during the game.
The oddsmakers have the Brees-led Saints anywhere from a 9.5 to 8.5 underdog. Only two of the Saints’ five losses this season were by more than 6 points (granted one of them was the 27-point drubbing at Seattle).
The most important thing the Saints have going for them on this trip to Seattle isn’t the good luck talisman they’ve brought on the team plane, but the bad history they left behind when they won their first road playoff game.
If the Saints can win in Philadelphia, they can also win in Seattle.
And if they can win in Seattle, then they can beat any other team in the league, whether in San Francisco, Charlotte or East Rutherford.