1 road win down, another ahead?

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 9, 2014 at 11:30 am •  Published: January 9, 2014
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The long and winding road to the Meadowlands already has had some unexpected twists and turns.

The Saints, 49ers and Chargers are grateful for that. They hope to continue on it this weekend.

No one has it tougher than New Orleans. Then again, the Saints had never won a playoff game away from the Big Easy before taking down the Eagles in the wild-card round.

Seattle is a different challenge.

"It is deafening," coach Sean Payton says of CenturyLink Field, where fans set a noise record earlier this season. "They do a great job. Their fans are educated. They understand when to be real loud and when to quiet down. The way the stadium is structured the noise stays in.

"We've experienced it a handful of times now, and you just try to simulate it as best as you can."

Obviously the Saints didn't do that particularly well in a 34-7 loss on Dec. 2.

"The last game didn't matter, and who you played and how they played and all that doesn't matter," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says. "And this certainly applies to somebody that we've played before in the season. It was like the first thing I had addressed in our team meeting when we came back together was: What has happened in the past doesn't tell the story of what's going to happen in the future one way or the other.' "

New Orleans and Seattle kick off the action Saturday, followed by Indianapolis, the only home winner last weekend, at New England.

On Sunday, it's San Francisco at Carolina, then San Diego at Denver. The Panthers and Chargers both had road victories in the regular season at their upcoming opponent.

New Orleans (12-5) at Seattle (13-3), Saturday

The Saints' improved defense and running game makes them confident they can compete with Seattle, which hadn't lost a home game with Russell Wilson since he took over at quarterback in 2012. That is until Arizona beat the Seahawks in Game 15, raising some vulnerability questions.

"If we want to accomplish what we set out to accomplish, then we better find a way to go there and win," says Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who will face the league's stingiest defense (231 points allowed). "I was just hoping we have another opportunity and here we are with that opportunity."

Indianapolis (12-5) at New England (12-4), Saturday

The Colts needed a stunning comeback from a 28-point deficit in the second half to beat Kansas City, 45-44. They understand how unlikely another big rally would be against the playoff-tested Patriots.

Still, they're game for anything, and with New England's defense banged-up, the Colts could score a lot of points. Maybe not 45, but they might not need so many.

"We know it's going to be a dogfight, that's what the playoffs are about," says Andrew Luck, whose work against the Chiefs was reminiscent of, well, Tom Brady.

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