Stop if you’ve heard this before – the Saints don’t play very well in cold, outdoor venues.
Now, ask Saints Coach Sean Payton about the theory but when you do, duck, because you’ll get some verbal blowback.
When Payton was asked after the Saints’ 17-13 win about storylines involving the Saints’ inability to win on the road in cold weather, the New Orleans coach shot back quickly.
“Someone needs to do a little research on it so that we don’t spend time answering dumb questions,” Payton exhorted.
He got even testier a question later, when he was asked his reaction to continued questions about how the Saints play in cold weather.
“I think it’s a typical stereotype with a dome team,” Payton said. “I don’t know what else to tell someone than to do some research and bring back some numbers and I’ll answer a question.”
Well, here are the numbers and Payton won’t like them.
Since 2006, but excluding 2012 when Payton was suspended, the Saints are 2-6 in games where the temperature is 40 degrees or colder and the starters are playing. The two wins came over 4-12 teams (Washington in 2009, Cincinnati in 2010).
And the overall record for those eight opponents is .500, but 56-40 against the six opponents who didn’t end their season 4-12.
The scoring won’t make Payton feel any better.
In all road games played with Payton on the sideline, the Saints average 26.7 points scored while allowing 22.3.
In eight road games played at 40 or below, the Saints are scoring a point more per game. But they’re also allowing 11 points more. It’s worse in the six losses, the Saints averaging only 25.7 points while giving up 34.5.
Monday night’s weather is expected to be in this range.
Forecasts call for rain and snow during the day, when the temperatures are supposed to rise only into the 30s. The precipitation should taper off during the night, but the temperatures won’t get any warmer.
There are many reasons this game will be one of the toughest regular season games since Payton took over.
Seattle earned its 10-1 record with stout defense, ranking No. 3 in yards allowed per play (4.6), No. 1 in passing yards per play allowed (4.18) and No. 1 in interception rate (4.36 percent). And the Seahawks’ offense isn’t bad, either, ranking seventh in yards per play (5.86), sixth in rushing yards per attempt (4.54) and fourth in passing yards per play (4.54).
The Seahawks have won 13 straight home games by an average of 18 points, allowing just 13.2 per game in that stretch.
But while no one inside the Saints locker room will admit it – quarterback Drew Brees already has said, “it’s not like we dread going on the road. Not one bit,” – the weather is a factor for one reason or another.
Monday night, they’ll get a chance to prove everyone wrong, that this is a different team that has the ability to win in any environment.
If you’re looking for any kind of ray of hope, however, you can point to Payton’s 21-8 road record since 2009, the best in the NFL. And New Orleans is 4-1 after Thursday night football with Payton on the sideline.