On Sunday afternoon, something died. It wasn't the 2012 season. That died last week when the New Orleans Saints lost to the Kansas City Chiefs—a team that has been absolutely dreadful in its three games against anyone not from New Orleans.
No, the death that took place took something far more disastrous. That death was the loss of hope. It was the loss of a realistic hope that could foster itself.
The Saints' 28-27 loss at Lambeau Field took away the one thing New Orleans fans were holding onto even amid a 0-3 start. Hope could abound simply because there had been teams that came from 0-3 to make the playoffs.
No team has ever gone 0-4 and made the playoffs. And this team isn't the one to do that.
Now, here is what I'm not saying. I'm not saying the rest of 2012 won't be a great year. The Saints, theoretically, could still turn this thing around to the ultimate degree to go 12-4. And the way everyone else is stinking in the NFC, if the team could simply go 9-7, they could easily gain a wild-card spot.
But, that's just it. That's a sad, sad thing to hope for. Sure in the past, teams such as the Giants, Steelers, Packers and Cardinals have won or gotten to the Super Bowl with similar records. And yes, if the Saints managed to get to 9-7, they'd be playing some really good football at the end of the season.
But at some point, even an eternal optimist, like myself, must stay reasonable. It won't happen. And frankly, a high draft pick in 2013 is a better goal to look toward than a No. 6 seed and the 99.9 percent certainty of not making the Super Bowl.
With all that said, let's look forward to 2013 when, hopefully, the Saints have a top-five draft pick they can trade away for five picks that can set the team up for continued success over the next decade. With that in mind, I spoke too soon. Hope was not lost. But, the 2012 version of this team lost a reason to hope in this season. There we go.
Here is the hope for 2013.