NEW ORLEANS The Saints and Ravens are in similar situations. Each is a game behind the division leader. Each leads the wild card race in its conference.
The Saints have gotten there by starting fast, out-scoring the opposition 95-23 in the first quarter. The Ravens have been troubled by finishing slowly. Their four losses have come by a combined total of 14 points. In each loss they had a 14-point lead. They have lost a fourth quarter lead eight times this season, three times in the final three minutes of regulation.
Against the Texans on Monday night, they surrendered 301 yards of offense in the second half and gave up drives by Houston of 99 and 95 yards in the fourth quarter. They went to overtime for the third time this season while winning for the second time in overtime.
To their restless fans they say it may not always be pretty, but we find a way to win, the same thing the Saints were telling theirs before they dominated the Rams in all three phases last week.
The Saints are a combined 12-2 on the road the last two seasons. The Ravens have won eight straight against NFC teams at home and 14 of their last 15. They are 11-2 in Baltimore all-time against NFC teams that play their home games indoors, winning five straight.
In the past three seasons at home the Ravens allow 12.5 points per game -- the NFL's best defensive mark. The Saints have scored 30 or more points in their last five games. The worse the weather, the better the Ravens are going to like it.
But just two weeks ago the Saints won in the snow and cold at Cincinnati. the Ravens retort could be this: 'Surely you're not putting us in the same category as the Bengals!'
Even though in week two of this season, the Bengals scored one of their only two wins to date against these Ravens.