After Further Review: Great Challenge, great opportunity awaits Saints

The stigma is there, and it will stick around until they do something about it.

Fair or unfair it goes like this: the Saints are one of the best teams in the home.

It's par for the course at this time of year when Super Bowl contenders start to make their way to the top of the conference standings and national pundits look for reasons to look another way when talking about the black and gold.

The facts are pretty straightforward. The Saints are 9-2 with their only two blemishes coming away from the Dome. At home they're 6-0 with an average margin of victory of nearly three touchdowns. On the road they are 3-2 and those wins barely came by an average of three points. Plus, Drew Brees is just 4-8 when the kickoff temperatures are at 40 degrees or below.

The Saints know this. They also know for the first time all season their 'road deficiencies' have come to the forefront on a national stage.

Sure sounds like a perfect recipe for a Sean Payton motivation spin to me. When a perceived weakness comes to light with his team, Payton has always been one to make a point to throw it back in the 'expert' faces. (Think the 'so much for rust' comment after their win over Arizona in the 2010 divisional round of the playoffs).

But make no mistake about it, CenturyLink Field will be the toughest place the Saints will play all season. The weather will be cold and damp and the 12th man will make it their mission to wreak havoc on Brees' and company all night long. Plus the talent on the field isn't too shabby either.

But it's also true that the Saints are without question the best team to walk into this building all season long. Add that to the fact that this team is so much more equipped to handle the conditions and crowd and you can see why the Saints believe they can be the team to hand Russell Wilson the first home loss of his career.

So while a severe challenge awaits them, so too does an magnificent opportunity. Monday night in Seattle will give the Saints the chance to shed the label that they can't win anywhere other than the friendly confines of the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

It's up to them to answer the bell.