The Saints have survived two gritty tests on the road, at Tampa Bay and at Carolina. Two key plays, neither by the offense, has been the difference in those two victories. The first was a Taysom Hill blocked punt against the Bucs. The second was Vonn Bell’s forced fumble against Carolina.
Those two plays, and the subsequent wins, have the Saints one win away from clinching home field in the NFC playoffs. That route is the one the Saints took to get to the Super Bowl nine years ago.
And, for Saints opponents, the news is bad. The Saints will likely be indoors the rest of the season. The Saints have two home games remaining, and if the club is the number one seed, two possible playoff games at the Superdome before the Super Bowl.
Anything can happen in the playoffs, for sure, but the Saints are at least a touchdown better at home, than they are outdoors.
Outdoor football is played differently than indoors. It just is.
That’s why Sean Payton has to love this win at Carolina. The Saints out-toughed the Panthers. The Saints again proved they don’t have to be an elite offensive team to win critical games in December.
The Saints have rebuilt their defense in every way possible. Recent drafts have brought Sheldon Rankins, David Onyemata, Vonn Bell, Marcus Davenport and Marcus Williams. Cornerback Eli Apple, with a big interception Monday night, was acquired via trade.
And, the Saints have supplemented those moves with quality free agents such as linebackers Demario Davis and AJ Klein.
The Saints have dramatically upgraded their defense, and they have a great chance to be the #1 seed in the NFC because of it.