A Closer Look: The Importance of the Superdome for the Saints
No matter how the final four games pan out, the New Orleans Saints are back in the postseason for the third straight year. Naturally, Sean Payton’s squad would love nothing more than to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. However, they’ll have some tough sledding in the final month of December with the 49ers, Colts, Titans, and Panthers all on the agenda. In the Sean Payton Era, the Saints are 32-24 in the month of December, going 6-3 over the past two seasons.
If you're heading to the game this weekend, then consider yourself challenged going into a monster showdown with San Francisco. In his Thursday morning press conference, Sean Payton was asked about the importance of the home crowd after players discussed feeding off the energy the fans created inside the Superdome.
“Look, we think about a lot of things. We think about everything, is it going to be loud? Can we be louder? Is it a 12 noon start? Does the crowd realize how much of an impact they can have? Do they truly realize that? I think about that kind of thing addressing the crowd prior to a Friday press conference, making sure they appreciate the difference."
Payton added, "I just finished talking about third down and playing at home is, if you were trying to physically measure, it's somewhere between a half second and little less than that, but just a tick slower for the visiting team. It is what it is, but during the game, we have the headsets on, we're doing a lot and you're going lose track of it. There's times during the game where it's a critical point in the game and you want to get them going and I don't want to be guessing what hat the acorn is under.”
Just how good has New Orleans been at home, and why is it so important?
In playoff seasons, the Saints boast a 49-13 (.790 winning percentage) record at home under Sean Payton. In non-playoff seasons, they’re just 24-24 (.500). They’ve gone undefeated twice (2011 and 2013), and their worst record at home while making the playoffs came in 2006 (4-4). They're 18-4 (.818) at the Superdome since 2017 with two more home games left to play.
A Closer Look - Saints Home Record by Season
Being at home for the playoffs is a good thing for the Saints, as they’re 6-1 since 2006. The lone loss we all fondly remember, and undoubtedly it's a wrong that needs to be made right.
We've witnessed players and fans of opposing teams trying to downplay the crowd noise inside the Superdome, but conversely some have given the atmosphere the respect it deserves. 49ers running back Raheem Mostert had an interesting take for the game in an appearance on 95.7 The Game on Tuesday.
"I have not played a game in the Voodoo Dome," Mostert said, "and I have heard multiple stories about how crazy the fans are in there, and the atmosphere, and all that. How I see it is it's going to be a neutral site because I know our fans are going to show up because every game we've gone to, so far, has really felt like a home game, especially for these away games. Even in Baltimore, we had a lot of fans cheering for us."
"We're going to see how it goes this week when we play the Saints, but, like I said, it's going to be a nice atmosphere, and I heard nothing but great, crazy things about it," Mostert added.
Fans typically travel well to New Orleans, as the city is very hospitable to opposing teams and its fans. This year, Cowboys fans were all over the place. Last season, it was hard not to notice the amount of 'Terrible Towels' in the building when the Steelers visited, and the Eagles fans were also evident. The year before that, the Bears and Patriots were among the best-represented fan bases to visit. Some fan bases have also made it a point to parade down Bourbon Street in a 'city takeover', which is all in good fun. New Orleans is just a fun place to visit, and has really come a long way since Hurricane Katrina.
Talking down the impact of the Superdome hasn't gone over too well for some players in the past like Roddy White, Jared Allen, and Demarcus Lawrence. The Rams also talked about the noise being overrated heading into the NFC Championship game. In 2019, Saints fans have had a hand in helping their team with 11 pre-snap penalties, 4 timeouts forced, and 44 3rd Down stops.
No matter how things turn out on Sunday, you can rest assured that Saints fans will always bring their best to the game.