The Saints are set to play their 11th Wild Card game in their franchise history on Sunday when they host the Chicago Bears. Overall, they enter with a 4-6 record with the team being 3-2 under Sean Payton. Last season, New Orleans saw their hopeful postseason dreams end prematurely after the Vikings essentially bested them and popped their bubble in overtime.
Wild Card History: Sean Payton Era
- 1/5/20 - Vikings 26, Saints 20 (OT)
- 1/7/18 - Saints 31, Panthers 26
- 1/4/14 - Saints 26, Eagles 24
- 1/7/12 - Saints 45, Lions 28
- 1/8/11 - Seahawks 41, Saints 36
Many believe that this could be the last run for Drew Brees. While that hasn't been confirmed or deemed factual yet, the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction. It goes without saying, he's going to be instrumental to what the Saints are trying to accomplish and gives them their best shot of doing it.
To do so, he'll have to play at his best. Brees has had some decent playoff games in the Wild Card round, but has turned the ball over in the past three he's been in. Overall, he's 141-of-199 (70.9 percent) for 1,704 yards. He's tossed for 9 touchdowns and 4 picks, while being sacked 9 times.
Drew Brees by game in the Wild Card
"You know what, honestly, I've played the last four seasons in a row as if it was my last. So as I sit here, right now, my approach is very much the same," Brees said on Wednesday.
Brees, who has always been a focused professional, shut down the outside noise when asked about whether he's privately made a decision on it being his last season.
"I've made a decision about being the best I can be this week so we can go win this game so we can keep playing."
It's a hypothetical 'last ride' for Brees and the Saints, because it's not only about his future depending on what happens in the playoffs. The very nucleus and core foundation that has been built is likely going to be split up after this season. It's not just about some of the players from the stellar 2017 draft class who could be making their last runs with the black and gold like Marcus Williams and Trey Hendrickson, it's about everyone like the front office guys Terry Fontenot and Jeff Ireland who have earned a shot to take on bigger roles. It's also about some of the good coaches the Saints have had like Dan Campbell, Aaron Glenn, and Dennis Allen that could be destined for bigger things. It's also about some of the free agents like Sheldon Rankins and Jared Cook who might be out of the picture after the season.
Much is made about the massive deficit the Saints face when it comes to next year's salary cap, but there are plenty of ways for them to maneuver that number like they've done every offseason, and the exact figure is not yet known. And that's where we're at right now with this team - nothing is certain.
When asked if his teammates were going to use him as a motivating force going into the postseason, Brees echoed what he's said for so long, which has made him beloved in New Orleans and beyond.
"Well, all I know is this, I did not come back to play this season for myself. I came back for my team. I came back for the city. I came back for the organization. That's why I am here."
Brees has been slighted and under-appreciated too many times in his time with the Saints, for one reason or another. Despite doing things no quarterback in the history of the game has ever done or may never do again, the disrespect remains for him. A proverbial way to shut everyone up would be to get another Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans for a team that has the right pieces and makeup to do it. Now is the time for the Saints to do it, because we have no idea what next season brings.