Can the New Orleans Saints go unbeaten?

Can the New Orleans Saints go unbeaten?
by Scott Ferrell
December 9, 2009
The Shreveport Times

uddenly, asking if the New Orleans Saints can go unbeaten isn't so far-fetched.

The Saints have four games remaining on their schedule. The combined record of New Orleans' four remaining opponents is 20-28.

There is, though, an issue facing the Saints.

The team has already wrapped up the NFC South title. And New Orleans owns a two-game lead over Minnesota for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with four games remaining.

Will Saints coach Sean Payton be tempted to rest some players if his team secures home-field advantage early?

Payton dismissed the subject earlier this week.

"Our focus is like it has been," Payton said. "We're still playing four games that matter in a lot of ways. We're trying to put ourselves in the best position possible in the postseason.

"The only thing I would say to that is that we're going to focus on the Atlanta Falcons. This is a place where we struggled a year ago and didn't play well. I think this is a very good team we're playing. Our focus is going to be on winning this game and doing everything we can to play well in this game. Past that, I'm really not looking ahead."

In 2006, though, Payton rested some of his team's better players in the season finale.

He might be tempted again this year.

Just the fact that the Saints are 12-0 this season already bodes well for the team.

Prior to this season when both the Saints and Indianapolis Colts reached the 12-0 mark, only five teams since 1970 accomplished the feat.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins, the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 1998 Denver Broncos all started 12-0 and all won championships.

The 2005 Colts started 12-0 but lost in the divisional playoffs to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-18.

The 2007 New England Patriots — the only team to go 16-0 in the regular season — lost in the Super Bowl, 17-14, to the New York Giants.

All five of those teams faced the balancing act that Payton and the Saints now face — trying to stay healthy and continue playing well.

ou want to go into (the playoffs) with your guns blazing, with your key players healthy," legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula told USA Today.


The Saints aren't healthy now. They played on Sunday at Washington without their top three cornerbacks. Linebacker Scott Fujita didn't make the trip.

But the playoffs are a month away and the team figures to be healthier by then.

As for going unbeaten, the Saints are playing as if they don't believe they can be beaten.

Saints running back Mike Bell said he told teammate Nick Leckey that New Orleans would win Sunday's game even with Shaun Suisham attempting a short field goal late in the game that would have given Washington a 10-point lead.

"I said 'we're going to win this game, he's going to miss the field goal, and we're going to win this game.' I swear to God I said it," Bell said.

In 2007, the Patriots played their starters in the season finale against the New York Giants and won the game. The Giants, also playoff bound at the time, did the same.

The Giants credited their run to the Super Bowl title to that game.

"It really is a delicate thing," NFL Network analyst Mike Martz told USA Today. "But if you're undefeated, you're either all in or you're not.

"People say your record doesn't matter, but it does."

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