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Saints seek break from recent AFC dominance

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints seek break from recent AFC dominance By SHELDON MICKLES Advocate sportswriter Published: Nov 2, 2007 - Page: 1C Recent history tells us that NFC teams have had all kinds of trouble keeping up with the AFC, especially when it ...

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Old 11-02-2007, 10:32 PM   #1
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Saints seek break from recent AFC dominance

Saints seek break from recent AFC dominance






By SHELDON MICKLES
Advocate sportswriter
Published: Nov 2, 2007 - Page: 1C

Recent history tells us that NFC teams have had all kinds of trouble keeping up with the AFC, especially when it comes to the Super Bowl.

The AFC representative has won eight of the last 10 Super Bowls and its domination in the title game is merely an extension of the regular season, where the AFC has not lost an interconference series with the NFC since 1995.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is one NFC coach who wishes he could put his finger on the problem. Since taking the Saints’ job in 2006, Payton is 1-5 against AFC opposition and 12-5 against the NFC.

Payton actually won his first game as an NFL head coach against the AFC’s Cleveland Browns in the 2006 season opener. But since then, it’s been total frustration as he’s dropped the last five—with three of those losses coming in the Superdome.

The Jacksonville Jaguars could be the next team to extend the Saints’ misery against the AFC. The 5-2 Jaguars, who have already won two games against the NFC South this season (beating Atlanta and Tampa Bay), will try to make it three straight against the Saints.

To make matters worse, the Saints almost don’t know what hit them when they square off with an AFC foe. To the Saints, they must all seem like the New England Patriots or Indianapolis Colts.

After beating Cleveland a year ago, they lost to Baltimore (35-22), Pittsburgh (38-31) and Cincinnati (31-16). This year, they have fallen to Indianapolis (41-10) and Tennessee (31-14). In those five games, they’ve been outscored 176-93 and allowed more than 31 points each time.

So what’s the deal?

“We talked about it in the team meeting today,” Payton said Wednesday. “We beat Cleveland, and that’s been it really. We’ve struggled against these other teams.

“That’s one of the other challenges, and each week you play one of these teams, you understand it’s going to be a physical game,” he said, trying to come up with a plausible explanation. “No one expects anything different this weekend.”

As if they haven’t struggled enough against AFC teams, the Saints have to face Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio. Since taking over the Jaguars in 2003, Del Rio has been almost automatic against the NFC with a 15-3 record.

“There are obviously a couple of teams that are going to square off this week that have been very special over the last few years,” he said, referring to the Indianapolis-New England matchup. “Beyond that, we consider ourselves one in that class of teams that can go out and compete against anybody.”

Del Rio took time to compliment the Saints on reaching the NFC title game a year ago, then said they simply prepare for each team the same—whether it’s an AFC or NFC foe.

“We look at each opponent and the challenges they present, and do the best we can to put a plan together to give ourselves a chance to win,” he said. “I think all the other stuff is kind of like what happens at the end of the year after you’ve done all that.”
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