ATLANTA - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Drew Brees #9 and Mark Brunell #11 of the New Orleans Saints take the field against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 13, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Saints won 26-23. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Unlike the Indianapolis Colts, who have spent much of the season skirting questions of perfection, the New Orleans Saints think 16-0 has a nice ring to it, and they're not scared to tell you about it. This is a departure from what, it seems anyway, has become the stock response since the Patriots watched a hitherto perfect season spoiled in the Super Bowl: the regular season matters insofar as it's the route to the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
Indeed, it has become chic in many circles to put little to no stock in regular season records, a sometimes notable shift in mindset that has been brought on by two consecutive Super Bowl winners--New York in 2007 and Pittsburgh in 2008--with less than remarkable regular seasons. "We want to peak at the right time" has become the philosophy du jour for talented teams with okay win-loss marks. (Note: Tony Romo has offered some variation on this remark several times so far this season).
All this makes New Orleans' approach novel, and kind of interesting. More than secretly wanting the unblemished record behind closed door, amongst themselves, they discuss openly their desire for 19-0. Drew Brees, quarterback, MVP candidate and Mr. New Orleans is leading the charge.
“No, no, no," Brees said when asked if a loss would be beneficial. "You pull out all the stops. We’re not holding anything back. You don’t have many opportunities like this, do you? [That's] something to consider.”
Former quarterback Brian Griese, who led the 1972 Dolphins to the only perfect season in league history, recently suggested that New Orleans should lose a game to "get the monkey off their back." Fullback Heath Evans, who was on that 2007 Patriots team, refuted any such thinking in a recent article on Yahoo! Sports.
“That’s just stupid,” said Evans. "You can’t make that game any bigger than it is. It (the Super Bowl) is the biggest game of your life. It’s the biggest stage in sports … the reason we got beat that year is because we lost to a good team on a day when they played a better game.”