When the New Orleans Saints (12-2) and Steelers (8-5-1) play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, it will mark a calendar month between home games for New Orleans, which finished its road schedule against Carolina on Monday night.
The Saints have the power to ensure not leaving again until February.
With a victory in one of the last two regular-season games – both in the Superdome – New Orleans will lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They would be the home team for any playoff game in which they play until Super Bowl LIII, in Atlanta on Feb. 3.
And for all the obvious reasons, the Saints are pressing for that to be the case.
Dating to 2009, in the last six seasons that the Saints have had a winning record (including through 14 games this season), they've posted a 39-7 record in the Superdome (85 percent) in the regular season. In the last four of those winning seasons, New Orleans is 28-2 at home.
Too, they're undefeated (4-0) in the playoffs during that span.
And there's this: They're firm believers in the advantages provided by the Dome, where the crowd can be deafening and momentum-altering.
"Don't nobody want to come to the Dome and play," cornerback Marshon Lattimore said. "So it's key for us, to lock that in. We're just taking it one game at a time for these last two. Hopefully we can come out with that No. 1 spot.
"(But) nobody wants to come to the Dome. It's a whole different atmosphere for other teams, especially for them on offense. The crowd noise is unbelievable, so that's like an extra for us on defense."
"(It's) extremely (important)," left tackle Terron Armstead said. "Extremely. You go by statistics, you go by history, you go by what we do at home – the energy that the fans bring, the vibe of the city. It's a dark cloud over any opposing team that pulls in.
"We want it, for sure. We want two more home (playoff) games in New Orleans. We're going for it, most definitely. We've got a team that can go and we can play anywhere, we can play anybody. But we want the No. 1 (seed)."
Entering Sunday, the Saints have been potent at home. Five times, they've scored at least 31 points and have averaged 38 points per game. Defensively, New Orleans has held four of six opponents to 19 points or less and are allowing 24 points per game at home.
"We've proved this year we can go anywhere and win," defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said, referring to the Saints' 7-1 mark on the road. "But to be able to host playoff games, to be able to have home-field advantage – you guys know what it's like in there. And it only gets amped up for playoff games.
"So to be able to host those games, to be able to have that home-field advantage, to be able get this offense rolling and allow our defense to tee off and play the way it's been playing, you couldn't ask for anything else."
Defensively, the Saints have allowed 12.3 points in the last six games. In their last two home games, they allowed 12 per game.
Still, they have to finish the next phase of their work, having already completed the task of winning the NFC South Division and earning at least one home playoff game. That must be done before the No. 1 seed is secured.
"This game is huge because it's the next one," defensive end Cam Jordan said. "I can't look for the No. 1 seed without trying to win this game. This game is marquee in terms of what we want to do, because of the next checklist.
"We have a strong team coming in to the Dome. I'm excited about it, simply because we haven't been at home in almost a month. When you talk about our 'Dome Field advantage,' that's a real thing. I can't wait to get back under the lights and play on our home field."
Check out the game action from the New Orleans Saints week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers on Monday, Dec. 17