A Historic Omen For The Saints?
In 51 years, no NFL team has played in the Super Bowl in its home stadium
It’s not too often the Saints can claim to have history on their side, but with two playoff games before the Super Bowl, they do, sort of. Well, more accurately, their upcoming opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, doesn’t have history on their side. In 51 years, no team has played the Super Bowl in their home stadium.
The Vikings, the No. 2 seed in the NFC, are trying to become the first to do it. After a bye week during the Wild Card round, Minnesota will host the Saints in the divisional round. If history holds true, they will lose before reaching the NFL’s championship game.
Minnesota (-4.5) is currently favored to beat the Saints, and according to the Washington Post’s playoffs simulation the Vikings have a 19 percent or roughly 5:1 odds of winning the game. That’s behind the New England Patriots (28 percent, 4:1) and Philadelphia Eagles (26 percent, 4:1), even with the Eagles sporting backup quarterback Nick Foles filling in for injured starter Carson Wentz.
The Saints, the Post believes, have a 5 percent chance, roughly 19:1 odds.
On paper, it looks like the Vikings will move on to the NFC Championship and the Saints will go home. On the opening Monday Night of the season, Minnesota beat New Orleans 29-19, in a score that was closer than the game actually was. Seventeen weeks later, the teams should expect different result. While Minnesota has been steady throughout the season, the Saints were a dramatically different team in the first two weeks of the season compared to Week 3 to present. Running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara established themselves as the strength of the offense, each earning more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage. Ingram finished the regular season with 1,124 rushing yards and 416 receiving yards for 1,540 yards. Kamara finished with 728 rushing yards and 826 receiving yards for 1,554 yards. It’s a great year in New Orleans when Drew Brees is seen as being the secondary scoring option for the Saints. This year he still put up amazing numbers completing 386 of 536 passing attempts for an NFL record 72.0 percent completion percentage, 4,334 yards, 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Most surprising for the Saints was the defense, which improved to the 17th top unit in the NFL after several years of being among the league’s worst.
Those same stats will show that Minnesota led the NFL in defense this season. And it’s a generally accepted maxim that defense wins championships. But the games aren’t played on paper and must be settled on the field. Be it luck, prayers, or 51 years of history saying the Vikings won’t play a Super Bowl at home, the Saints will take it and anything else they can to move past Minnesota.
There’s a lot riding on this weekend, including a surreal situation in which if the Saints win and the No. 6 seed Falcons beat the No. 1 seed Eagles in Philadelphia, the NFC Championship would be played in the Super Dome with the winner going on to the Super Bowl. What a wild scenario that would be.