There's an old expression which says that someone should never "cry over spilled milk"; and it basically means that people shouldn't worry or be upset about things that have already happened in the past and now can't be changed. After the New Orleans Saints' stunning 13-10 upset loss at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys last night, it's a phrase that perfectly fits both the team and its extremely passionate Who Dat Nation fan-base.
And as it turns out: there's a few reasons why it's fitting.
One reason is that although New Orleans did have their 10-game winning streak snapped; last night's defeat was only their 2nd loss of the entire entire season — and with 4 games left remaining to play on their schedule, the Saints still have an opportunity to not only clinch the NFC South Division but more importantly: finish as one of the top seeds and earn a 1st Round Bye in for the upcoming NFL Playoffs.
Another reason is that while it's certainly disappointing the Saints as a team didn't exactly have their finest overall performance of the year last night, there's no need to make an assumption that it's a sign of bad things to come.
We cautioned Saints fans in a few different articles last week that Dallas was a team capable of pulling off the upset and shouldn't be overlooked, and clearly that ended up being the case. But now the (10-2) Saints don't have time to "dwell" on last night's loss, as disappointing as it was.
"No one is going to sit back and wait for us to punch them in the mouth," Saints tackle Jermon Bushrod said to reporters in the locker room after last night's loss to the Cowboys. "They’re going to punch us, and we got to punch back. That’s just what it is.”
The Saints — who have played 3 games in a span of the past 12 days — now will get to enjoy what's essentially a 9-day break until their next game.
Up next for New Orleans will be a game at Tampa Bay a week from this coming Sunday (December 9th), before they travel to face the Panthers in Charlotte, North Carolina on ESPN Monday Night Football December 17th.
The Black and Gold then closes out its 2018 Regular Season schedule with a game at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 23rd, and then once more against the Panthers on December 30th in the season finale at the Superdome.
It goes without saying that New Orleans will have to "play to win" each one of those games; if they hope to keep up with the Rams in the race for the #1 Playoff seed and home-field advantage throughout the entire NFL post-season.
“We would love to be perfect. It wasn’t in the plan for us to be perfect,”Bushrod said.
“That’s OK. Our goals are still in front of us. We have four more weeks to do what we need to do."
Clearly this Saints team has a singular goal in mind and has since last year, which is not only just getting to but actually WINNING the Super Bowl.
But one of the main things that the Saints will need to do in order for that to happen; is to make sure to keep up with the team that is still very likely the biggest threat to them winning it all this season, the Rams — who are now the NFL's only 1-loss team.
New Orleans will need to finish AT LEAST no lower than the #2 seed behind Los Angeles, so that way they'll get a week off to rest with a 1st Round Bye before hosting a Divisional Round Playoff game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against an opponent still to be determined.
That scenario playing out would pretty much almost guarantee the Saints a spot in the NFC Championship Game; although it's unwise to assume anything during the NFL Playoffs, a time during which Saints fans are well aware can literally see anything happen.
At this point assuming that things now remain the way that that they are with regard to the current Playoff seedings in the NFC, the Saints would have to travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams in a potential NFC Championship Game match-up.
And it would be a game at a stadium that they've only won at twice in 52 years: the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which originally opened nearly 100 years ago back in 1923.
The Saints have played at the L.A. Coliseum 12 total times in team history and have lost there 10 of those times; including last year on November 26th (Thanksgiving Weekend) by a score of 26-20.
However, it should noted that the weather in Southern California at that time of the year (late January) will in all likelihood be played in sunny and mild conditions; and therefore certainly would make it a "winnable" game for New Orleans.
Nevertheless, that's probably getting way ahead of things at the moment; and for right now the Saints simply must regroup and do what teams in the NFL that just had a 10-game winning streak snapped and only their 2nd loss of the season handed to them, do in response:
Move on to the NEXT game.
Which is exactly why this morning, there's no need for Saints fans to dwell on last night's upset; or become panic-stricken by the manner in which they lost.
Teams lose games all the time in the NFL, even the "good" ones.
But it's HOW you respond to those losses, that matter the most.