After a streak of coin flip futility earlier this season, are the Saints headed for another dubious distinction?
If New Orleans and San Francisco win Sunday, the Saints will become the first 13-win team not to get a first-round playoff bye since the N.F.L. adopted its current format of four divisions and six playoff teams per conference in 2002.
There was one other 13-win team not to get a bye since the league went to six playoff teams per conference in 1990, but that was back in the era of three divisions. The 1999 Tennessee Titans got a wild card by finishing behind the 14-2 Jacksonville Jaguars in the old A.F.C. Central.
If the Saints miss a bye with 13 wins, it may be sort of a cosmic payback for the fact that they are also the only team since 2002 to get a bye while winning as few as 10 games. That happened in 2006. It also occurred once before in the three-division era, with the 1993 San Francisco 49ers.
Many 10-win teams have missed the playoffs over the years, including the Giants and Buccaneers last season. The 2008 New England Patriots missed with 11 wins.
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