They are 8-0, kicking butt and defying the odds despite huge first half deficits and shoddy play. It seems only natural that the media would start up the "perfect season" hype machine surrounding the New Orleans Saints. As for us fans, we can't help but dream a little dream of going unbeaten. I mean really....the Saints? Unbeaten? But in the vein of the cynical, "be careful what you wish for," superstitious football fan mentality, I can't help but to advise our team and our fans to proceed with caution. After all, the perfect regular season may not be the best path to a Super Bowl appearance, much less a victory.
The obvious example? The 2007 New England Patriots. They rolled over every opponent in their path throughout the regular season and beyond, until of course, they got to the big game. In the Super Bowl versus the Giants, the mighty Goliath of the NFL fell victim to their own hype...and a "I sold my soul to the devil"-esque lucky catch on behalf of David Tyree. Perhaps had the Patriots experienced the agony of defeat before the big game, they would have been better prepared to face and anticipate the challenges of playing in the biggest game of the year.
Of course, it's not just unbeaten teams who take a jaw-dropping tumble when it matters most. Last year, the Tennessee Titans finished the season with the best record in the league, 13-3, securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Too bad they never even made it past their first playoff game against the Ravens. The Titans seemed to lack a certain level of intensity and focus. Perhaps they were over confident. Perhaps they hadn't been tested enough to gain a true sense of respect for the "any given Sunday" mantra. And what about the best records in the NFC last season and in 2007? As I recall, they experienced the Super Bowl just like the rest of us: on the outside looking in.
It almost makes you wonder if not just losing, but how a team loses in the regular season brings a higher level of insight and experience to a championship game. Losing one of those last few games before the playoffs where the starters are on the bench doesn't seem to have as great an impact as losing in a tight game with a tough opponent. And while it may sound nice to have your team go "undefeated," at the end of the day, isn't the Super Bowl win all us fans really care about?
With all this said, I can't think of one team left on the schedule I'd want the Saints to lose to. And I'm so spoiled at this point, I know any loss would be tough to stomach. But if a loss now could make my team better prepared to secure a win when it matters most, I say take that 18-1 "perfection" and shove it.
Article cross published at chicksinthehuddle.com