METAIRIE, La. — List the names of NFL stadiums that are tough for opponents to play in and somewhere near the top, you’ll see the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
And that’s not just a media organization saying it. It’s NFL players.
Jahri Evans, New Orleans eighth-year right guard, has heard it and lived it. Acquaintances around the league have expressed their disdain for playing in the Superdome and he has seen the Saints’ success in it, especially in the postseason.
“I talk to guys across the league and they don’t want to come here and play later in the year,” Evans said. “We have that going for us.”
Sunday’s game against San Francisco could go a long way in setting the Saints up for at least one home game during the playoffs.
“They’re all important, but this one is real important because you don’t ever want to think ahead, but you know that this team is one of those teams that could be around later,” Evans said before trailing off.
New Orleans is 36-16 at home under Sean Payton in the regular season, outscoring opponents by an average of 8½ points. On the road, meanwhile, the average is 5.4 points.
But it’s in the postseason where the difference is so pronounced since 2006.
At home, New Orleans has won four playoff games by an average of 13½ points, scoring 148 points in those games. On the road, however, the Saints have lost three playoff games by an average of 11.3 points, though the 39-14 loss at Chicago skews that number.
Sunday, when the Saints (7-2) host San Francisco (6-3), it could be a vision into the future, one which New Orleans hopes is replicated as far as location.
Yet, the team’s leaders also realize that good teams also have to win on the road.
In 2012, Baltimore won the Super Bowl after winning at Denver and at New England while its opponent, San Francisco, won at Atlanta to reach the big game.
A year earlier, the New York Giants earned a spot in the Super Bowl after winning playoff games at Green Bay and San Francisco.
In 2010, meanwhile, Green Bay won the Super Bowl after winning three straight road playoff games.
The playoffs are on New Orleans' mind and at least one player isn't afraid of playing on the road.
“Obviously that’s a long way away, but in the past when we have gone on the road in the playoffs, the mindset has been no different,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “The preparation has been no different. Unfortunately we haven’t been that successful on the road in the playoffs as we have at home, but it’s not like we dread going on the road. Not one bit.”