Nobody will deny that an NFL team playing at home almost always has an advantage. Whether it is because of familiarity with the stadium, the lack of travel and schedule disruption, or even the home field fans cheering their team and making noise, it is difficult to go on the road and win a game in a professional football league.
The New Orleans Saints are familiar with this, as their home games in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome seem to almost always end with a win for New Orleans. They are also familiar with the other side of this coin, however.
In January of 2011, the Saints played a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks that did not end in their favor. After a 67-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch in the fourth quarter dubbed the “beast quake,” New Orleans lost 41-30. Was this a result of Seattle’s 12th man? Maybe, maybe not.
The Seahawks believe that it was. A quick visit to their website will show a page dedicated to their 12th man filled with all sorts of information. Teams that are not the Seahawks average 2.6 false starts per game there. Also, earlier this season, the 12th man set a Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd roar in a sports stadium when they recorded a decibel level of 136.6 in Week 2.
This was broken by fans at Arrowhead Stadium later in October with a reading of 137.5, but Seahawks fans will be looking to take back that record on Monday night.
Just for reference, 136.6 and 137.5 decibel readings are pretty loud. The flight deck of an aircraft carrier records a level of about 140. To counter this and a tough Seattle defense, the Saints must ignore the 12th man and play smart football like they did in their matchups against the Chicago Bears and their recent game against the Atlanta Falcons.
We will probably see more of the running game behind Pierre Thomas and perhaps some Mark Ingram, but also short passes to Jimmy Graham and screens to Darren Sproles. Rob Ryan‘s defensive unit will need to continue playing competently. This means continued focus on stopping the run game and of course, not letting athletic second-year quarterback Russell Wilson get away from them.
It will not be easy, but if any team in the NFL is built to beat the Seahawks at home, it is definitely the Saints.