One thing you must know if you watch enough sports is that they are ultimately cyclical. With a team like the New England Patriots being the outlier, most franchises, even the highly successful ones, go through a variety of ups and downs. So it’s no surprise that a semi-conspiracy-theorist such as myself can find striking similarities between one game and another, one season and another, one player and another, and so forth.
If you’re a New Orleans Saints fan, you might be getting some 2009-esque deja vu. After all, the parallels are eerie. Both the 2018 and 2009 versions were 13-3. Both were 7-1 on the road. Both suffered three losses — to the Cowboys, Buccaneers, and a meaningless Week 17 loss to the Panthers. Both were the top seeds in the NFC. Both faced the defending NFC champion in their divisional round game, having entered that contest with some questions about recent subpar play.
But it isn’t just the Saints that might remind you of 2009.
If you, like many football fans, are sick and tired of the aforementioned Patriots, then you might enjoy a good 2009 comparison. You might remember that prior to this season, 2009 was the last time the Pats lost more than four games in a season. That 2009 team was 8-0 at home just as the 2018 team was. The 2009 team also had a losing road record. And ultimately, that 2009 club lost its first postseason game at home.
Back in aught-nine, the Chargers were also very good. The then-San Diego club went 13-3, but was bounced by the upstart Jets in the divisional round. A year later, those Jets would beat the Patriots in the divisional round, which to this day is the last time New England has dropped a home playoff game.
So, you might ask, what are the potential 2013 comparisons?
Let’s start, once again, with the Patriots. Should New England advance to the AFC Championship game for an eighth consecutive season, they very well could face the Chiefs. Back in Week 6 on a Sunday Night, the Patriots won a wild 43-40 shootout over then-undefeated Kansas City. However, this rematch would take place at Arrowhead Stadium.
Five years ago, the plot line was almost identical. The Patriots trailed 24-0 at halftime of a late-November Sunday Night game against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. They miraculously rallied to win in overtime, 34-31, but the Broncos ended that season one game ahead of New England in the standings just as this year’s Chiefs did. So the rematch took place on the road, and the Broncos returned the favor with a 26-16 win.
That Broncos team was coached by John Fox. This Chiefs team is coached by Andy Reid. What do both men have in common? They were both previously beaten as coaches of an NFC team in the Super Bowl by Bill Belichick’s Patriots, Fox’s Panthers in 2003 and Reid’s Eagles in 2004. Prior to 2013, Fox had never beaten Belichick in the postseason. At this moment, Reid has never beaten Belichick in the postseason. Both coaches advanced to the Super Bowl as No. 1 seeds and faced another No. 1 seed on Super Bowl Sunday.
So is that all? Of course not.
How about over in the NFC? St. Nick is taking the world by storm again, a seemingly unstoppable and unflappable postseason force. Foles is 4-1 lifetime as a postseason starter. So, you ask, who was the one lucky quarterback to topple him? That would be none other than his opponent Sunday, Drew Brees and the Saints. New Orleans has defeated Philadelphia twice this century in the playoffs, most recently a 26-24 road win in the 2013 wild card round. For as dominant as Foles has been, his mark is not unblemished, thanks to Brees and Co.
Anything else, you might ask? Why yes!
Back in 2013 (the last time the Chargers had won a playoff game before Sunday, FYI), wild card teams from California with big records were all the rage. Way back when it was the 12-4 49ers having to settle for a No. 5 seed because the Seahawks were a game better in the regular season, but that didn’t stop the Fightin’ Harbaughs from winning two playoff games on the road before running into a Seattle buzzsaw in the NFC Championship game. You know, like the Chargers might with their division rivals from Kansas City if they advance.
It’s fun to look back now and see some of the coincidences that crop up. If the Saints do in fact win the Super Bowl, you’ll be hearing plenty more about 2009 along the way.