The New Orleans Saints are the favorites heading into Sunday’s NFC wild-card game against the Chicago Bears but head coach Sean Payton was hoping to increase those odds with a very unusual suggestion.
This year’s playoffs will look vastly different from any other season as local COVID-19 restrictions have limited fan capacity from a few thousand to none at all. According to The Athletic, the Saints will be allowing 3,700 fans – 700 being friends and family — to attend this weekend’s game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
But those numbers didn’t seem enough to coach Payton, who was looking to improve the home-field advantage.
“I brought up the idea of testing 50,000 people and quarantining them in a hotel and having the most safest Superdome known to man, scientifically. Bus them, they’ve tested every day, and you’ve got a COVID-free facility,” he said, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
It’s unclear how serious the suggestion was but the Saints don’t appear to need any more of an advantage than they already have.
The Bears went from 5-1 to 5-7 before finishing strongly enough to sneak into a playoff spot. Their defense is dangerous but if the Saints get some of their running backs back from the COVID-19 list – particularly scoring machine Alvin Kamara – they will be heavily favored.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.