NEW ORLEANS -- Watching Shady McCoy and Jacoby Jones dashing through the snow Sunday and Matt Forte slicing through the Big Chill on Monday night made me think of fast approaching Super Bowl XLVIII.
More succinctly, it made me think of the New Orleans Saints playing outdoors in the wintry elements on the second day of FeBRRRRRRRRRRuary at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
According to the 2014 Farmer's Almanac, the weather on Super Bowl Sunday will feature "an intense storm, heavy rain, snow and strong winds.''
The Farmer's Almanac did not predict which two teams would be braving those challenging conditions but the Saints definitely are in that number.
A lot of football remains to be played between now and then. But, there is no reason to think that the Saints can't win the NFC, even if it means going through the Seahawks and the 12th Man at CenturyLink Field in Seattle to do it.
The Saints have their swag back after scoring a convincing 31-13 home win against Carolina to take over sole possession of first place in the NFC South.
In a span of six days on national TV, against two of the NFL's premier defenses, the Saints were made to look like Jane in a 34-7 blowout loss at Seattle, then played like Tarzan against the piping hot Panthers in New Orleans.
The obvious difference in the games was the venue.
In Seattle, the Saints were no match for the wind, rain, chill, Seahawks and 12th Man. In New Orleans, the Saints warmed to the occasion in the climate-controlled Mercedes-Benz Superdome where they are 7-0 this season and have won 15 consecutive games with Coach Sean Payton on the sideline dating to the regular-season finale in 2010.
Afterward, Panthers coach Riverboat Ron Rivera called the lopsided loss a "humbling experience'' and "maybe we got a little full of ourselves and thought we were capable of just showing up.''
Rivera and Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton also implied the rematch would be different on Dec. 22 in the outdoors at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. The long-range game-day forecast in Charlotte calls for a 50 percent rain chance, with a high of 72 and 15 mph winds.
Just as I can envision the Saints reaching Super Bowl XLVIII, I also wonder how they would handle the elements as forecast by the Farmer's Almanac.
Yes, they have the best regular-season road record in the NFL since 2009 (24-14, including 3-3 this season) but they also are 0-3 on the road in the playoffs during the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era. Plus, they have a sub-.500 road record (3-4) in December and January since 2009 in games when they play their starters.
I do not dispute their ability to win on the road. I question their ability to win consistently outdoors, particularly when the elements come into play. Generally speaking, quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints offense are not the same prolific unit outdoors as they are inside a domed stadium.
For starters, they don't run the ball with conviction, nor does Payton stress its overall importance in his grand scheme. Consequently, when the elements come into play, Brees and the passing game must carry the load.
This past weekend, I tried to picture Brees and the Home Sweet Dome Saints trying to negotiate the snowy and frigid conditions in NFL burgs such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Denver, Cincinnati, Washington, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets and Chicago.
I concluded the Saints would have been out of their element.
That's one reason why I like the Saints (10-3, 8-0 in domes) on Sunday in St. Louis where they will be tackling the Rams (5-8) inside the Edward Jones Dome.
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