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Mythbusters: Do The Steelers Need To Score 30 Points Against The Saints?

By Alex Kozora

We’ll take a crack at a new series for the remaining few weeks of the 2014 season. One we’ll call Mythbusters. As the name implies, I will dispelling popular Pittsburgh Steelers related myths. Similar to the TV show, but with more football and less impressive mustaches.

We’ll start by testing a common statement about the Steelers’ Week 13 opponent, the New Orleans Saints.

Possible Myth: The Steelers need to score 30+ points to beat the Saints this weekend.

Source: The sentence might be gift-wrapped differently but the sentiment is the same. An example from a reader from Gerry Dulac’s chat yesterday.

“Do the Steelers have to win a shootout against the Saints or can the Defense keep them under 30 points? “

And on paper, it makes sense. The Saints’ are capable of being a potent offense. Drew Brees at QB, Jimmy Graham at TE, and the emergence of Mark Ingram becoming the running back he was supposed to be.

But does the theory hold true? Let’s find out.

We’re looking at two issues here. How often the Saints score 30 points on the road. And – considering numbers are relative – how that occurrence stacks up with the rest of the league.

I searched Pro Football Reference’s database of instances of a team scoring 30+ points on the road since the 2012 season and the Saints have done it four times.

As mentioned, the important factor is how that compares to the rest of the NFL. Four, itself, is just a meaningless number. Is that a lot? The worst figure in the league? It needs something to be compared to.

Below, the list of teams that have hit that mark four or more times.

Denver Broncos: 13
New England Patriots: 11
San Francisco 49ers: 9
Green Bay Packers: 8
Philadelphia Eagles: 8
Chicago Bears: 7
Indianapolis Colts: 7
Carolina Panthers: 6
Dallas Cowboys: 6
Houston Texans: 5
San Diego Chargers: 5
Atlanta Falcons: 4
Miami Dolphins: 4
New Orleans Saints: 4
Pittsburgh Steelers: 4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4
Washington Redskins: 4

That’s eleven teams that have done it more frequently than the Saints. Five others that have done it just as often.

The Saints have done it as much as the Buccaneers – the latter not exactly thought of as an offensive juggernaut at any time over the last three seasons.

Going an extra step, I collected the data for the whole league and found the average to be 4.4. That would, statistically speaking, put the Saints below average.

The Saints pale in comparison to other teams with elite QBs. Denver has more than tripled the amount. New England more than doubled and Green Bay doing it exactly twice as much.

And taking it a final step, three of the Saints four games came in 2012. All were in warmer weather, though it should be pointed out Sunday’s game won’t be cold – mid to upper 50’s. At Oakland, at Tampa, and indoors against the Cowboys.

The fourth also came indoors, this year against the Falcons.

This isn’t to dismiss the notion the Saints can’t have a potent offense – and as Dave Bryan pointed out in his article highlighting Drew Brees, there’s every reason to be worried – but history says the odds of the Saints scoring 30+ aren’t any better than any other team.

Myth: Busted.

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