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Saints have chance to prove themselves in cold Philly on the road

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints will have to be strong away from home in the playoffs to prove doubters wrong about their road abilities (Photo: Jonathan Mailhes).Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints will have to be strong away from home in the playoffs to prove doubters wrong about their road abilities (Photo: Jonathan Mailhes).

NEW ORLEANS -- It could be worse.

The New Orleans Saints could be playing their wildcard game Friday night against the Eagles in Philadelphia where the forecast calls for possible snow, single digit temperatures and winds gusting to 24 mph.

But Mother Nature is smiling, in a sense, on the Big Easy Road Rangers.

Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field in Philly calls for relatively balmy weather -- no snow, temps in the low 20s and 6-8 mph winds.

Which way to the beach?

But seriously, what are you going to do? The Saints have no one to blame but themselves for their current station in life. As the sixth-seed in the NFC, they will need to win three consecutive road games to reach Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

That's a tall order for a team that has stumbled badly away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this season, finishing 3-5 on the road after losing five of its last six contests.

This is the same team that steamrolled to an 8-0 record at home, outscoring the opposition by 18.4 ppg. On the flip side, the Saints are scoring 16.2 fewer points per game and yielding 8.0 ppg more on the road.

That disparity in performance on the road and at home is puzzling and certainly will garner close attention from GM Mickey Loomis, coach Sean Payton and the entire football operations in the offseason.

Meantime, there is the task of trying to win the franchise's first road playoff game -- EVER. And, if successful, then another, And, if successful, then another, in order to secure a coveted berth in Super Bowl XLVIII.

The NFL gods didn't do New Orleans any favors by having the Dallas Cowboys fall at home to the Eagles 24-22 in the NFC East championship showdown. Beating the self-destructive and Kyle Orton-led Cowboys at indoor AT&T Stadium promised to be an easier assignment than getting a "W'' against sneaky productive Nick Foles at the walk-in freezer known as The Linc.

So be it.

If the Saints want to end the trash talk and shake the stigma that they are nothing more than a dome creation, a warm-blooded team that can't brave the elements and win on the road in the playoffs, there is no better time than the present.

Beating the Eagles in chilly Philly on a national stage would go a long way in proving all the skeptics, critics and naysayers wrong.

More importantly, it would keep the Black and Gold in the hunt for its second Lombardi Trophy, albeit the next stop on the road to Super Bowl XLVIII would be a difficult return match against the No. 1 seed Seahawks and their 12th Man at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The Seahawks won Game 1 between the teams on Dec. 2, 34-7.

But first things first.

The Saints have to put an opponent on ice.


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