Jeff Duncan: Road to the Super Bowl still goes through the Saints

Jeff Duncan: Road to the Super Bowl still goes through the Saints
Drew Brees accounted for 4 TDs in the first half. (Source: Mark Lagrange)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The Saints put a bow on a 13-3 regular season Sunday by pounding the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.

Thirteen wins is a major accomplishment. The Saints have only done it four times in their 53-year history. And for the first time, they’ve now done it in back-to-back seasons. As Saints punter Thomas Morstead said in the locker room Sunday, “These are the good ole days.”

How rare is it to win 13 games? Well, only about two teams manage to do it in an average NFL season. The feat is almost always rewarded with a top playoff seed and first-round bye in the playoffs. Since 1990, 67 teams have won 13 or more games in a season. Of those, only three have failed to land a Nos. 1 or 2 playoff seed and home-field bye in the first round. It's now happened twice to the unlucky Saints – in 2011 and again this year.

In years past, losing home-field advantage would have meant a death blow to the Saints' playoff hopes. In the Brees-Payton era, the Saints' playoff fortunes have been directly related to playing location. In the Superdome, they are 6-1 in the postseason. On the road, they're 1-5.

But this Saints team is different than past models. This is an experienced, resilient bunch. They've been steeled by adversity and heartache. Playing on the road will not deter them. Already this season, they've won on the East Coast, the West Coast and along the shores of Lake Michigan. And they've been successful in just about every kind of weather condition.

So, if the Saints take care of business on Sunday against the Vikings and are forced to travel for their next two playoff games, fret not. They'll be ready, willing and able to get the job done.

They've won seven consecutive road games and appear to be peaking at just the right time. They'll enter the playoffs as one of the favorites to win it all.

The road to the Super Bowl might not go through the Superdome this season. But it will still go through the New Orleans Saints.

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