The New Orleans Saints accomplished some firsts this season, perhaps most notably setting a franchise record for wins with 13 and earning the top seed in the NFC along with home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Possibly the biggest thing they have earned this year are expectations, something this franchise is not all that used to. The Saints appearances in the playoffs are limited. There was a run to the NFC title game in 2006, prior to that a single playoff win in 2000, and then you have to go back to the early 90s. Even in the heyday for New Orleans of three straight playoff appearances, they never reached the Super Bowl.
In 2009 the Saints jumped out to a 13-0 record and there were talks of perfection. Three losses later the Saints walk into the playoffs this Saturday against Arizona Cardinals with a definite need to get their mojo back again. Regardless of the late season mishaps the Saints are still the number one seed, they have still earned the first round bye and a great deal is still expected out of them. In recent history when the Saints made it to the playoffs it was almost like an unexpected guest showing up to a party and everyone seemed to enjoy having the new guy around. This playoffs they are not only expected to be at the party, but they are expected to still be going strong at three in the morning.
Television analysts are already, either consciously or subconsciously, trying to lessen the expectations of the Saints. All this past weekend on NFL coverage it was various announcers letting us know the Dallas Cowboys are in fact the best team in the NFC. This might be the case, but it might just be more of a team getting hot headed to the playoffs.
As a Saints fan this is a weird spot to be in, actually expecting not just one playoff win, but a prolonged run in the playoffs and perhaps, dare I say, a trip to the Super Bowl. Will the group from Bourbon Street be able to live up to their billing? We'll find out this Saturday, but I'm expecting big things.
-Posted by Cadillac Mescallade