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QBREES9 12-30-2010 11:10 PM

Saints to be road warriors for playoffs
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New Orleans in line for No. 5 seed

New Orleans is back in the playoffs, but it looks like fans will be watching the games on television as the Saints go on the road.

The Saints, the defending Super Bowl champions, clinched a playoff berth Monday night with a 17-14 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.

The Saints (11-4) are in line to be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, which would mean they would have to win three playoff games on the road to return to the Super Bowl.

"The way I feel about this team is that it doesn't matter if we play at home or on the road," Saints quarterback Drew Brees told reporters in Atlanta after Monday's victory.

"I'll take these guys anywhere and play anybody, anytime," Brees said. "I feel like we we're battle tested. I feel like we're playing with a lot of confidence. We trust one another and there's no task that we don't feel we can accomplish."

The Saints still could end up with the No. 1 seed, but that appears unlikely. The Saints would need to finish the regular season Sunday with a victory at home over Tampa Bay while Atlanta (12-3) would have to lose at home to 2-13 Carolina.

"You just want to punch your ticket to the big show, and we've done that," Brees said on ESPN after Monday's game. "Carolina needs to do us a huge favor and beat Atlanta so we can be the 1 seed."

Few expect that to happen.

If the season had ended with Monday night's game, the Saints would open the playoffs Jan. 8 or 9 at the NFC West champion, likely St. Louis, although the Rams (7-8) have not clinched the NFC West title yet. The Rams face the Seattle Seahawks (6-9) on Sunday in a winner-take-all match for the division.

New Orleans beat the Rams 31-13 on Dec. 12 and beat the Seahawks 34-19 on Nov. 21. Both games were played at the Superdome.

If the season were over now, wild-card team and No. 6 seed Green Bay (9-6) would be at NFC East champion Philadelphia (10-4) in the other first-round NFC playoff game while No. 1 seed Atlanta and No. 2 seed Chicago (11-4) have byes.

Should Philadelphia beat the Packers, the Saints, who would be heavily favored in the first round, would advance to a rematch with the Falcons in Atlanta in the second round while the Bears would be home against the Eagles. A Packers win would send the Saints to Chicago.

There is one scenario that would give New Orleans a home game in the playoffs, even as the No. 5 seed. An NFC title game between the Saints and the Packers would be played at the Superdome.

"You want to be playing you best football going into the playoffs," Brees said Monday night in Atlanta. "Here we are, having won seven of eight. Hopefully, we can continue that roll next week."

Saints to be road warriors for playoffs | | The News Star

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