The streak is dead.
This past Sunday, the New Orleans Saints saw an end to a home winning streak that was equal parts curious and empowering. For all of the pomp and circumstance that came along with the 12th Man™ and the Seattle Seahawks' 14 game home winning streak, it was the Saints' impressive home win streak that has been the NFL's most daunting to conquer. The Saints' streak proper stood at 11 consecutive games, but if you consider the "Payton Streak", the Saints had won 20 consecutive home games with Sean Payton on the sidelines.
For a little perspective, the last decade plus has seen some impressive home winning streaks, here are the top five:
New England Patriots - 20 consecutive home wins (2008-2011)
New England Patriots - 18 consecutive home wins (2002-2005)
St. Louis Rams - 15 consecutive home wins (2002-2004) *ended by the Saints*
Baltimore Ravens - 15 consecutive home wins (2010-2012)
Seattle Seahawks - 14 consecutive home wins (2012-2013)
Although an 11 game home win streak isn't long enough to crack the top five, the "Payton Streak" is long enough to to tie the longest such streak in recent history. That's quite an impressive feat and I applaud the Saints for achieving such an effort. Also, I applaud Who Dat Nation and all of the fans who have stood in attendance over the course of the streak, who created an atmosphere that is nearly unparalleled in recent memory. All this being said, just because this streak is over doesn't mean the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is any less imposing of a building for the opponents who enter its snare.
It was only an inevitability though that the streak would come to an end sooner rather than later. Its not so much that it ended as much as who ended it, and the circumstances in which it ended. Oh, not the San Francisco 49ers, no, flat no. I've declared my feelings about my neighbors to the north, many times over, but personal feelings aside, this loss came as little of a shock. Just before the season began, I posted that the Niner game would be the Saints' most difficult game to keep the streak alive, while the Packers game would be the easiest. I, like the rest of us, held out hope that the Saints could find a way to win by any margin against San Francisco.
Well, as the saying goes, All good things come to an end, and this one unfortunately has. The Saints now have the opportunity to rebound an win their final four home games of the 2014 season, starting with the Cincinnati Bengals, who feature arguably the NFL's worst starting quarterback in Andy Dalton and the 30th ranked defense in the league. Not a bad way to get a new streak going. From there it's Baltimore in primetime, where all opponents come to get dumptrucked, followed by a lifeless Carolina squad, and finally a showdown with Atlanta that will likely be for the division title. The Saints may have lost their most recent home game but they will continue to be one of the most difficult teams for opponents to face on the road.
This recent streak may be over but another one may just take its place, and of course we'll always have primetime in the Superdome. No opponent comes into the Dome after sundown and leaves with a victory. Nobody. So for now, don't mourn the loss of the Superdome streak, celebrate it. It was a feat that was not only duplicated, but improved upon. Here's to the next home win streak being a record breaking one.
The streak is dead. Long live the streak!