How does the saying go?
You don't always get what you want, but you usually get what you deserve.
That's the overriding feeling I get when I think of the 2014 New Orleans Saints.
This team may want to be in the playoffs, but they deserve to be watching them. Sunday's 30-14 loss to Atlanta combined with Carolina's win over Cleveland ensured that's exactly what will happen.
Playoff teams don't lose five-straight games at home by an average of two touchdowns. They don't get embarrassed to a division opponent like they did two weeks ago. And they certainly don't get swept by their arch rival for the first time ever under Sean Payton.
The locker room spin at times has been ‘we're just a few plays away from being (insert winning record here).'
I hope no one actually believes that line. In 2009, the Saints were a few plays away from losing a few of the 13 games they won that season, but they found a way to make those few plays and win those games. That's life in the NFL. The good teams figure out how to make those plays; the bad ones find excuses as to why they can't.
Sunday provided a perfect example. The most controversial play was Jimmy Graham's catch at the goal line that was ruled a fumble. I, like many, believe that was a touchdown and should have been overturned. The referees disagreed and confirmed the ruling. With the mentally strong Saints of years past, that's a rallying cry for a win, not a turning point in a loss.
But those tough-minded teams are gone. This fragile 6-9 group is here now. All season fans kept waiting and waiting for the Saints to be the team they thought they were. The problem is this inconsistent mess WAS who they were all along.
It didn't matter how many motivational cartoons, one-on-one meetings or pre-game light shows coach Payton used to rally his troops, that wasn't going to change. At least not change with enough consistency that is needed to be a playoff team.
Which, as of Sunday, they deservedly will not be.