When they take the field on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, the New Orleans Saints will be looking to go 5-0 in their last five regular season games coming off a bye week. Since Sean Payton took over as the head coach in 2006, the Saints have a middling 4-3 record after the regular season open date. However, they've won the last four of those games by an average of 17 points over their opponents.
After starting his head coaching career 0-3 in games after the bye week, Sean Payton smartly sought counsel from the undisputed bye week wizard: former Philadelphia Eagles and current Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
From 1999 until 2012, Reid went an incredible 13-1 with the Eagles in games coming after the bye. That included a mind-boggling 13 wins in a row (1999-2011), with the lone loss coming in his last year with the club.
Reid's advice to Payton was simple: give your players the whole first week off to let them heal and recharge their batteries, then treat the second week like an ordinary game week.
Following Reid's recommendation, from 2009 on, the results have been outstanding for the Saints. By now, the "Reid's bye week routine" has undoubtedly become common practice for most teams in the National Football League.
Here's a snapshot of each of the Saints post-bye week games since 2006.
10/29/2006: Baltimore Ravens: 35 at New Orleans Saints: 22
The Ravens, led by quarterback Steve McNair came into the Louisiana Superdome to face the 5-1 New Orleans Saints. They saw and they conquered as they raced to a 28-7 halftime lead. The Saints would rally for 15 points in the fourth quarter to make the score look more respectable.
10/07/2007: Carolina Panthers: 16 at New Orleans Saints: 13
Leading 13-6 after three quarters, the Saints were shutout in the fourth quarter and doomed by a late David Carr touchdown pass to Steve Smith and a 52-yard field goal by John Kasay as time expired. If you had forgotten that Carr once played for the Panthers, you're not alone.
11/09/2008: New Orleans Saints: 20 at Atlanta Falcons: 34
Drew Brees completed only 16 passes in a game in which the 4-4 Saints never led and trailed 17-6 at halftime. This was a non-memorable game in a non-memorable season. Don't feel bad if you didn't remember (or had chosen not to remember) this one.
10/18/2009: New York Giants: 27 at New Orleans Saints: 48
In what is arguably...err definitely the greatest season in franchise history, New Orleans started their post-bye week winning tradition in style. The Saints raced to a 34-17 lead at halftime and coasted to a comfortable win over the overmatched New York Giants.
11/21/2010: Seattle Seahawks: 19 at New Orleans Saints: 34
Despite throwing two interceptions, Drew Brees completed 29 of 43 passes for 382 yards and four touchdowns in a game that the Saints controlled from beginning to end. Later that season, the 7-9 Seahawks would get their revenge over a New Orleans squad depleted by injuries.
11/28/2011: New York Giants: 24 at New Orleans Saints: 49
Giants players must have uttered a collective "not again" when they saw that they had to travel once more to their house of horrors (the Superdome) to play the Saints after the bye. New Orleans led 21-3 at halftime en route to a 25 points rout of the G-men.
10/21/2012: New Orleans Saints: 35 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 28
Despite the absence of Payton and a porous defense, the Saints kept their post-bye winning ways going. New Orleans overcame Tampa Bay's 522 yards of offense to defeat the Bucs in a shootout. Brees threw four touchdown passes while completing 73% of his passes.
10/27/2013: Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints
I do not expect the Saints to show Bills quarterback Thaddeus Lewis any mercy. New Orleans is most likely on its way to a 6-1 record and a 5-0 mark in their last regular season post-bye week matchups. Andy Reid would be proud.