The New Orleans Saints have made the postseason 8 times in the Sean Payton Era. They have made (and won) only one Super Bowl in that time, meaning the Saints are 1-7 as far as postseason runs are concerned, but have an 8-7 postseason win-loss record under Payton with Drew Brees at the helm. That Payton-Brees postseason record, while not incredible, is nothing to scoff at - Peyton Manning in Indianapolis was 9-9 in the postseason with only one Super Bowl win as well.
In their seven postseason losses, the Saints have played respectably - keeping all margins under one possession aside from their first postseason loss under Payton, the 2006 NFC Championship Game against the Chicago Bears. This isn’t surprising; the teams that make the playoffs in the NFL are usually the best of the best and it should be difficult to blow out your opponent and beat them by double digits.
But after watching the Minnesota Vikings lose by double-digits to the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, this got me thinking: what happened to each of the 7 teams that beat the Saints in the playoffs? How far did they go after beating New Orleans? Spoiler alert: Not very far.
We already covered the Saints double-digit loss to the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game, so what did the Bears do in their next game, a Super Bowl showdown against the Indianapolis Colts? They lost by double-digits, 17-29, with starting quarterback Rex Grossman removed from the starting role the following year and out of Chicago just two years later.
In 2010, the Saints lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round, a game that has become known as the “BeastQuake Game.” (Please don’t make me watch that highlight again...) Despite being plagued with injuries in the game, the Saints were still able to keep it competitive against Seattle, losing 36-41. But what were the Seahawks able to do with this BeastQuake momentum? Nothing, losing to the Bears in the divisional round the following week, 24-35.
This is the Vernon Davis game, when Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers led an improbable comeback (improbable for everyone but Gregg Williams) against the Saints to win 36-32 in the divisional round. What did the 49ers do with this momentum? They fumbled a punt in overtime against the New York Giants, losing 17-20 the very next week in the NFC Championship Game.
In a tightly fought game between the Seahawks and Saints, the Seahawks were able to hang on in the divisional round, beating New Orleans 36-32. The Seahawks went on to beat the 49ers in the conference championship game the following week and won the Super Bowl two weeks later.
Now we’re getting to recent memory for a lot of Saints fans. The Saints lost to the Vikings 24-29 in the divisional round of the 2017 postseason in what has been dubbed the “Minneapolis Miracle.” What were the Vikings able to do the following week after their “miraculous” win? Get demolished by the Philadelphia Eagles 38-7 in the NFC Championship Game.
The no-call. This one still hurts. The Los Angeles Rams were able to beat the New Orleans Saints 23-26 in overtime on the backs of the infamous missed pass interference call on Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis. And what did the Rams do after being gifted this Super Bowl appearance? Did they silence all of the critics that were saying the Rams didn’t deserve to be in the Super Bowl in the first place? No. The Rams and the vaunted Sean McVay offense put up only three points in the Super Bowl, losing to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
The upset. Those pesky Vikings again. The Vikings were able to upset the Saints in overtime, 20-26 in the wild card round of the 2019 postseason. And what happened the following week? Consistent with the theme, the team that was able to eke out a win over the Saints in the playoffs went on to lose by double-digits in the following game, as Kirk Cousins turned back into a pumpkin and the Vikings lost to the 49ers 10-27.
What does all of this mean? Absolutely nothing, of course. Or maybe everything.
Playoff opponents who beat the New Orleans Saints under Sean Payton are a combined 1-6 in the immediately following playoff game, with 5 of the 6 losses coming by double digits. Make that victory “memorable” in any spectacular way (i.e. BeastQuake, the no-call, the Minneapolis Miracle, etc.), and it’s almost a guarantee that you immediately get your tail handled to you in the next game with a double-digit loss.
If you want to win it all, your best bet is to not play Sean Payton, Drew Brees, and the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs. You might lose, but even if you win, you’ll still probably lose.