METAIRIE, La. (AP) - After missing out on a first-round bye in the playoffs, the Saints got the next best thing - a night game at home to open the postseason.
It's a welcome reward after the first season in history in which New Orleans went undefeated at home during the regular season, including a 4-0 record at night, when they beat opponents by an average of 47-16.
And yet, there's little anyone inside the Saints locker room could say was decidedly different from the past.
"I don't know exactly what it is," New Orleans strong safety Roman Harper said. "The Saints play well at home and it's a known fact about this league, just like Seattle plays well at home. Nobody knows exactly why, but maybe it's a sense of confidence being at home, a different pattern throughout the week."
After winning just 43 percent of their home games in the 39 seasons before Payton was hired in 2006, the Saints have won two thirds since.
"I've got a pool table at my house and you have to play with a short stick sometimes," Harper said. "That's the home-field advantage to me because I know how to play with it. Somebody on the outside may not know how to play with it. Maybe we have a couple of dead spots on the turf."
They've been even better in night games, going 15-6 overall and 10-4 in home games after dark during the regular season. In the playoffs, they're 3-0 at night under Payton.
"It's always an advantage playing in a dome with the crowd that we have, the type of atmosphere they set for us," cornerback Tracy Porter said. "It makes it easy to play, it makes it enjoyable to play, especially when we have success and those guys have the Dome rocking. You can't ask for anything better."
The Saints haven't lost a home night game since Dec. 19, 2009, when Dallas stopped New Orleans' 13-game win streak.
The Saints now are on an eight-game win streak and linebacker Scott Shanle has an idea why they have been so good lately at home - they're just playing good football.
Since a Nov. 20 bye, New Orleans has outscored opponents 234-111, including four home games in which it has won by a combined 96 points.
"It's just been one of those things where we've just been on a roll," Shanle said. "No matter where we played, I feel like we would have won."