NEW ORLEANS — The first hint might be the fact that New Orleans is favored by 11 points.
Of course, that’s also predictable when a 6-1 Saints team hosts a 3-4 Bills’ squad.
But there’s another factor.
The Superdome — Mercedes-Benz owns the naming rights — is a tough place to play ... period.
Since 2008, under coach Sean Payton — keep in mind he was suspended last season — New Orleans is 28-7 in home games.
In short, his Saints have won 80 percent of the time the past four-plus seasons at the Superdome under him, including a live streak of 11 straight.
Hence, Bills’ coach Doug Marrone, who was Payton’s nominal offensive coordinator his first three years in New Orleans, has a feel for today’s site.
Oddly, the Saints were only 13-11 at home during the Buffalo first-year coach’s tenure there, but he also knows, since the 2008 team went 6-2 at the Superdome, that New Orleans is tough to beat on its home field.
HARKENING back to his time there, Marrone allowed, “I don’t know if we ever talked about that, we just felt in my experience there, when we were at home we had everything going for us.
“It was an exciting thing and I’m sure they feel the same way (now). They have great fans, they’ll be into it, they’ll be ready to go. It doesn’t matter who comes in, that team will be ready to go.”
He added, “There’s still a lot of people in that organization that were there when I was. Even though the players may change, one thing for sure is they’ll be ready to play. There’s no doubt.”
This isn’t the first time Marrone will return to the Superdome since he left the Saints’ staff after the 2008 campaign to take over at Syracuse, his alma mater.
“(After) I left New Orleans, we played Tulane,” Marrone said. “I don’t really look at (playing at a tough road stadium). Same thing as last week playing Miami (23-21 win). It’s one of those things where my responsibility is to get the coaches ready, the team ready and let’s go play and win a game.
“(I’m) not really thinking about what my past experiences have been there.”
But he did admit, “ I think you always feel more comfortable at home. I really can’t speak for (the Saints), but from my experience when people come up (to Orchard Park) and we play in front of our fans, I love it. It has an effect on them ... the players get excited about it. I love playing at home, that’s why people always say it’s home-field advantage.”
BUT THEN THERE’S the visitor’s side.
“If anyone has been in New Orleans, everyone knows it gets loud,” Bills’ quarterback Thad Lewis pointed out. “(But) I think we have the signals and silent counts down pat. You try to limit your voice as much as possible.”
To which wide receiver Stevie Johnson added, “I think it is going to be alive ... I was there when I was in college (at Kentucky) to watch a game and it was wild.”
But it will be even more frenzied today because of the way the city and fans embrace the Saints.
“Going back on the road again, playing another team coming off a bye, our players know those circumstances (of playing at the Superdome) and I think that’s important,” Marrone said. “We’re going to try to win a game ... keep our focus on going out and winning it.
“It would be important for us to go out and win on the road which we haven’t done well in a long time.”
That’s an understatement.
Since 2010, Buffalo is 6-21 away from “The Ralph” — not including 1-2 in faux home games at Toronto — being outscored an average of 26-13.
But, Marrone maintained, “We’re coming off one win (In three games) on the road and we have to keep that same type of itinerary we had going in to Miami.”
(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at )