Forget that New Orleans won four of its last six games. Chicago's three losses in its last four games mean nothing.
"Momentum doesn't have anything to do with it," Saints coach Jim Mora said. "The playoffs are a brand new season."The brand new season began Saturday when Washington beat Philadelphia 20-6 and Miami downed Kansas City 17-16.
On Sunday, the Saints meet the Bears at Chicago, and the Houston Oilers play at Cincinnati.
Saints at Bears
The Chicago-New Orleans game matches two defensive teams that have had trouble scoring points with their run-oriented offenses. Mike Tomczak, subbing for the injured Jim Harbaugh, will guide Chicago. Steve Walsh, acquired early in the season from the Dallas Cowboys, has stepped into the Saints' starting job.
"If we have to throw, we will throw," Bears coach Mike Ditka said. "Mike has thrown well in the past."
The Saints rely heavily on the running of Reuben Mayes and 260-pound Craig "Ironhead" Heyward. Neal Anderson posted his third straight 1,000-yard rushing season for Chicago.
The Bears, who won the NFC Central, didn't make the playoffs last year, their only miss in seven seasons, and are 1-3 in playoff games since winning the Super Bowl five years ago. The Saints, a wild-card team, made the playoffs once before, in 1987, and were eliminated in the first round by Minnesota, 44-10.
If the Bears win, they're at the New York Giants next Sunday. A New Orleans victory means the Saints would play San Francisco on Saturday.
Oilers at Bengals
The Oilers are another playoff team without their regular quarterback. Cody Carlson, however, threw for a career-high three touchdowns as Houston won a wild-card playoff berth with a 34-14 victory over Pittsburgh on the final Sunday of the regular season.
It was against the Bengals a week earlier that Warren Moon, the Oilers' regular quarterback, dislocated a thumb. James Brooks rushed for 201 yards and helped Cincinnati win 40-20 en route to its AFC Central title.
The Oilers remember that game only too well, and they're determined not to let Brooks run amok again.
"We have a lot of pride, and we were very embarrassed by what he did," defensive lineman Ezra Johnson said. "I think it's safe to say you won't see that guy running through our defense like that again."
If the Oilers win, they play at Buffalo next Saturday. Cincinnati would play at the Los Angeles Raiders on Sunday.