Let me cut to the chase and state the obvious.
Regular season superiority does not necessarily translate into postseason glory.
Sure, any given team needs to be some semblance of good during the 16 game schedule. Otherwise, they wouldn't make the playoffs. But, more often than not, the studs of the regular season come up short.
Over the past couple of years, it has not been the 13 to 14 game winners who have triumphed in February, it was the 11-12 win teams that prevailed.
So, in many ways, I'm glad the New Orleans Saints got their first loss out of the way. While it's nice to be atop the power rankings in December, what ultimately matters the most is who comes out on top two months later.
In many ways, the first loss is a cathartic gut check. Now, the pressure is gone. Time to adjust, tweak and learn from your mistakes.
Do you think the players from that team really care that they share the undefeated regular season record with the 1972 Miami Dolphins?
Probably not, considering that they came up short in the end. Most players from that team, while proud of the offensive records, see it as a failure.
Now, these opinions are not meant to be an indictment on the 2009 Indianapolis Colts. They very well could go on to win it all.
But, chances are, they won't. No doubt, folks in Indy are touting their team's superiority over the "paper tiger" Saints. But, then again, the Colts are essentially the Utah Jazz of the NFL—they're good every year, but almost always come up short (their 2006 title notwithstanding, of course).
In essence, too much significance is put on an undefeated season. Yes, it's history. And yes, the prevailing counter argument goes something like this:
"Quick, who won Super Bowl XIX?"
"I thought so! But look, we played in the most memorable playoff game in history!!"
The above argument is from Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts. He was referring to his Chargers' heroic effort in the Jan. 1982 playoff battle with the Dolphins.
But, do you really think that his ringless hands—the void that will always be there—are any less disappointing?
So yes, history is in favor of the Saints. They're a superior team who stumbled, as 42 other Super Bowl winners have at one time or another.
The Colts? Good luck, guys.
I'd lose one if I were you.