Saints hoping to heed prayers of their faithful

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NEW ORLEANS – For years it was the most shopworn of jokes about the New Orleans Saints: They couldn’t even beat the Little Sisters of the Poor.

But now the Saints are in the playoffs, and the nuns consider themselves part of the team that will face the Philadelphia Eagles in the Superdome on Saturday night. It’s a pretty potent combination, Sister Paul believes.

“Who else but the Saints would the Little Sisters of the Poor support?” she said, speaking of the venerable order, which was founded in France and has a long history in New Orleans. “You can say the order is behind the Saints 150 percent.”

Sister Paul was the mother superior for the order’s Mary Joseph Residence for the Elderly in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. The 80 residents were unable to return after the storm because emergency personnel had commandeered their building. So they moved out to the order’s other 30 facilities.

Paul, four other nuns and 30 of her charges ended up at Sacred Heart Residence for the Elderly in Mobile, Ala.

“We are total fanatics,” Paul said in a telephone interview. “We can’t be in New Orleans, but we’ll be glued to the set. We’re having a box-supper so we can eat in front of the television.”

The New Orleans residents being cared for by the nuns range in age from 82 to 104, and Paul acknowledges that bets are being made around the home.

“It isn’t all that much,” said resident Andree Briant, 97. “There aren’t many people that will bet against the Saints here.”

Briant, born and raised in New Orleans, began attending Saints games when the franchise was first established in 1967.

“I haven’t missed a lot of the games over the years,” she said. “But I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited.”

Another resident, Estelle Falgouft, 82, had season tickets for 10 years, and always hoped to see the team in the Super Bowl. Now she believes she will.

“I keep up with them every day,” Falgouft said. “It’s a good team now, not like those old teams. I think the Saints will win by two or three touchdowns.”

Falgouft is looking forward to a wild Saturday night.

“We’re going to have it on the big screen,” she said. “It’ll be chaos, bedlam, wonderful.”

Groin injury keeps Horn sidelined

Saints veteran wide receiver Joe Horn was inactive for Saturday night’s NFC playoff game between New Orleans and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Horn has been battling a groin injury that forced him out of the final four games of the regular season. The four-time Pro Bowl wideout was listed as questionable during the week.

In the Saints’ 27-24 win over Philadelphia on Oct. 15, Horn had six catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. During the season, he had 37 receptions for 679 yards and four TDs.

The most notable inactive player for Philadelphia was cornerback Lito Sheppard, who dislocated his right el

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