Now that the league has decided that the Saints will play only three of their 16 games at "home"--in San Antonio, where the team is living and practicing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina--how will the displacement affect their season? "It'll be interesting to see if that emotion ends up lifting us up or tearing us down," G.M. Mickey Loomis said last week. "This can't be an albatross on our shoulders. It's got to be a leprechaun." Maybe it's a good thing the Saints will be frequent fliers: Under Jim Haslett, they're 25-17 away from home (including Monday's 27-10 loss to the Giants), 18-22 in the Superdome. What Haslett will sell to running back Deuce McAllister (above) and the rest of his players is the role they can play in keeping the nation's eyes on the battered Gulf Coast. "You remember the tsunami? Two weeks of big news, then forgotten," Haslett says. "The problem didn't go away, but people moved on. I feel it's our obligation to the entire region to win, to keep the attention focused on the relief efforts in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. That's why we can't focus on where the games are. Just play 'em. And win."
HEAD TO HEAD
Eli Manning versus the Chargers
There's only one reason a Giants-Chargers game will be on national television on Sunday night: Manning's rejection of the Chargers. Before the 2004 draft, in which San Diego had the first pick, Manning (left) announced that would not play for the organization. The Chargers took him at his word: They selected him, then dealt him to the Giants. If NFL history is a guide, the kid better wear earplugs when he takes the field at Qualcomm. In 1983, after John Elway forced a trade from Baltimore to Denver under similar circumstances, Elway started the second game of his career at Baltimore. "The reception was brutal," recalls Giants G.M. Ernie Accorsi, then the Colts' G.M. "I don't know if I've ever seen anything like it. We sold out the game. It was hot, noisy and really rough on him." Elway got yanked with the score tied 3-3, and Steve DeBerg stepped in to throw two touchdown passes in a 17-10 Denver win.
1. Most impressive emerging defensive lineman: Colts tackle Larry Tripplett, a powerful and quick slasher. He's Warren Sapp from five years ago.
2. I don't think I've ever seen a team display as much negativity toward its quarterback as the dispirited Lions showed Joey Harrington late in his five-interception debacle in Chicago. I can't see Harrington making it in Detroit.
3. Has a team with such great expectations ever been as stunningly awful as the Vikings? Even so, Minnesota would have to be three times worse for coach Mike Tice (above) to get fired, because there's not a logical person on his coaching staff--not even the once highly regarded Ted Cottrell, presiding over a badly underachieving defense--to serve as interim coach.
Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback, every week at SI.com/football.