The classic 24-hour rule for the Saints has come and gone. All focus shifts to the Panthers, and that should be the only thing on anyone’s mind at this point in time.
“We know what we’re playing for. We’re playing for the divisional championship and the 2 seed, so it doesn’t get any bigger or better than that. It will be a great challenge for us.” -Drew Brees
“The sky has not fallen. We know we have a good team. … We’ve got to play better on the road. We’ve got to get rid of that stigma that we can’t play on the road, because right now we’re proving everybody right.” -Curtis Lofton
The Saints will have to dig deep, and really do some soul-searching to find the answers to pull off a win at Carolina. Sure, we all remember the last time they played a short time ago, as the Saints had all of the answers for them. This time around? We know a victory won’t come as easy. As it is, there’s already tons of things that will be building against the Saints. Just to hit on a few things:
- Sean Payton is 3-3 against the Panthers on the road
- Overall, the Saints are 3-4 against the Panthers on the road since 2006
- The Saints are a career .500 (9-9) on the road against the Panthers dating back to 1995 (Expansion season)
- FOX has officially brought in their #1 team of Buck/Aikman to call this game
There’s so much tension mounting, as Sean Payton stated in so many words that there could be some new faces on the roster this week, or least some change-up for the starters. Garrett Hartley & Charles Brown look to be on that short list of ‘getting a lump of coal in their stocking’. Scare tactic? You tell me if Coach Payton would joke about that.
Any fan of football knows, or should know, the type of energy that is going to go in to this game Sunday, but for the Saints, this will define their season. Why?
Think back to everything that has happened since the Super Bowl win in 2009. The Saints were bounced out of the playoffs the following season by the 7-9 Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch Run), and then mustering another Super Bowl caliber team the following season, finishing 13-3 only to be upset by the 49ers (the Vernon Davis Catch), and then finally all of the ‘stuff’ hit the fan (Bounty Gate), and finishing at 7-9 without Coach Payton, sporting the league’s worst defense, statistically.
Last season, the course of the Saints season arguably went downhill after Drew Brees was intercepted by Ahmad Brooks. The Saints were looking to go above .500 after starting 0-4. That play would set things in motion, as the Saints would lose three games in a row (49ers, Falcons, Giants). Arguably, it was the ultimate turning point of their season.
This season, this game has so much at stake. A Saints victory could skyrocket their chances at a Super Bowl run. Think about it. Assuming the Saints emerge victorious, you’re breaking some bad karma already with the ‘road syndrome’. It’s just what you need to follow up a poor road loss, a victory of this magnitude. Sure, you’d also have to potentially head back to Seattle to play them again, but, you earn a Dome Home game for being the #2 seed, where the Saints haven’t lost this season.
This win doesn’t just mean all of those things, it will be the turning point for the 2013 Saints.