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John DeShazier: Saints looking to overcome Bears, elements on Sunday

Posted Oct 6, 2013

Sean Payton: 'If you’re going to be a good team, you’ve got to be able to play well, not only at home but on the road'

The field will be soggy, the length of the grass is much more likely to reduce speed than enhance it, the wind is forecast to blow in at 14 mph and make Sunday’s high temperature seem a few ticks less than the projected 60 degrees, and there’s a possibility that rain – given a 30 percent chance of falling – further will help conditions deteriorate.

And yet, to assume that the chance for success will mirror that for the Saints in Chicago at Soldier Field on Sunday, or to diminish New Orleans’ chance to improve to 5-0 because it’s a “Dome” team that’ll be playing outside, may not be the most prudent move.

Recent history suggests the Saints likely will be in it, with a good chance to win it.

True, the Saints have lost three straight at Soldier Field and, yes, quarterback Drew Brees was somewhat human in those three games. New Orleans Saints

He completed 24 of 43 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions, in a 27-24, overtime loss in 2008, and 35 of 60 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions, in a 33-25 regular-season loss in 2007, and 27 of 49 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception, in a 39-14 loss in the NFC championship game in January 2007.

But a little-known fact that may prove comforting is this: Including those games, the Saints are 22-21 in outdoor games, including playoffs, since Brees joined the team in 2006.

The other two road, outdoor playoff losses were by four and five points, to San Francisco and Seattle. Other regular-season losses outside on the grass have been by 42-34 (Green Bay), 26-20 (Tampa Bay), 30-24 (Baltimore), 29-24 (Washington), 23-20 (Tampa Bay) and 34-32 (Denver) scores, respectively.

In other words, New Orleans has had victory within grasp, roof or no roof.

“The challenge always is trying to simulate the conditions,” Coach Sean Payton said Friday. “Fortunately, though, I think we’ve been a pretty good road team. There’s a number of games that I can think of where we faced some challenges.

“Whether it’s weather, field conditions – those are all things good teams have to deal with. I think our players understand that. And yet, the pregame is important, to make sure they have the right shoes on, just kind of being ready for anything. The weather can turn there quickly. (It’s about) just getting acclimated very quickly and still understanding the turnover battle and all the little details that go into winning.”

One of those details is the mental aspect. Specifically, understanding that venues can contain benefits, but they’re not insurmountable.

“You’d really start more with the home team in our league is assigned a certain amount of advantage,” Payton said. “But if you’re going to be a good team, you’ve got to be able to play well, not only at home but on the road.”

New Orleans played well enough outside in its first road game this season, in Tampa, Fla. It’ll seek to do the same against the Bears, regardless of the extra obstacles presented by the temperature, wind, rain and terrain.

“I think elements are part of football,” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said Friday. “We’re going to be fine.

“Whatever it is, both teams play in it so that’s what we believe in. We’ve just been talking about (wearing) the right shoes and shoes that work and for any kind of condition.

“We’ll worry about the Chicago Bears and if it’s raining, great. If it’s snowing, great. If it’s hot, we’re doing the best we can to be ready.”

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