NEW ORLEANS Though this is the season of giving, it was actually the NFL's schedule-maker who threw the Saints a bone back in April.
Perhaps atoning for last season's punishment that included a more than month-long absence from the Superdome in the heart of the season, which included a 'home game' in London, the schedule-maker was exceedingly kind in 2009.
The Saints have benefitted and hope to continue doing so on Saturday night. The Cowboys' visit will mark the third of three prime-time games the saints will play this season, all in the Superdome.
There's no question the Saints have benefitted from that. In those three prime-time opponents, the Saints have and will face the most anticipated of foes on the 2009 home schedule, with the possible exception of the New York Giants, whom they beat by 21 points here on Oct. 18.
They have since beaten the Falcons on Monday night by 8 points and the New England Patriots in their last home game nearly three weeks ago by 21.
In their perfect 13-0 start the Saints have been remarkably consistent, home and away. the Saints have won those games by an average of nearly 15 points per game, scoring on an average of nearly 36 points per game.
In their six home wins this season, the saints have averaged 37 points per game, outscoring their opponents by 15 points per game. In their seven victories on the road, the Saints have averaged 35 points per game, outscoring their opponent by 14 points per game.
The concern of Saints fans has arisen from the recent two-game road trip, which saw the Saints average 30 points in the two wins over the Redskins and Falcons five less than their scoring average on the road, and by the three-point margin of victory in each of those games, 11 points per game below their average winning margin on the road.
And so the message the statistics would give the Saints on Saturday night is this: just do what you do, do where you have done it and how you have, and the perfect start to this season will continue with little imperfection.