This current NFL Thursday miniseries moves from Queen City to the Bayou, looking at the mostly sad history of the New Orleans Saints—a team with an overall .467 winning percentage that took 20 years to reach the playoffs for the first time (1987). In 57 seasons overall, the Saints have just 14 postseason appearances, although they did win the Super Bowl once in the team’s only visit there (2009). There are still a handful of teams that would trade places with New Orleans, for sure.

No. 5: 2020 New Orleans Saints

First place in the NFC South came on the heels of a 12-4 record, the No. 5 offense, the No. 5 defense, and the No. 1 overall ranking in the SRS. This team was good, but it ran into the NFL’s Tom Brady Agenda in the postseason, unfortunately. The Saints beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice by double digits in the regular season, but when they met again in the playoffs, somehow the Bucs turned the tables on New Orleans on their way to a very suspect Super Bowl victory.

Seven players finished with double-digit Approximate Value (AV) scores, including linebacker Demario Davis (14), running back Alvin Kamara (14), defensive end Cameron Jordan (12), and quarterback Drew Brees (10). In the opening playoff game, the Saints easily dispatched the Chicago Bears, 21-9, but against Tampa Bay, the N.O. defense gave up 17 straight points in the second half in a 30-20 loss as the Saints offense committed four turnovers to blow the game.

No. 4: 1987 New Orleans Saints

This was the first team in franchise history, dating back to 1967, that qualified for the playoffs, and it did so with a 12-3 record in a strange, strike-altered season. The Saints finished second in the old NFC West, with the No. 2 offense and the No. 5 defense. Overall, New Orleans was third in the SRS rankings, too. However, the inexperience on the roster must have gotten to the Saints psychologically, as they lost their opening playoff game, 44-10, to the Minnesota Vikings.

The team was led by LB Dave Waymar (14), QB Bobby Hebert (11), wide receiver Eric Martin (10), and LB Sam Mills (10). New Orleans entered the postseason with a nine-game winning streak, and the Saints were a 6.5-point favorite. When they scored first to take a 7-0 lead, all seemed well in the Superdome—but by halftime, the Vikings were up, 31-10. Minnesota forced six Saints turnovers, and the Vikings offense held the ball for over 41 minutes in the game. Painful loss.

No. 3: 2018 New Orleans Saints

Another New Orleans team to finish No. 1 in the SRS overall, these Saints finished 13-3 to win the NFC South Division. The team was No. 3 on offense and just No. 14 on defense, however. In the playoffs, New Orleans squeaked out a 20-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles before hosting the Los Angeles Rams in a very tightly contested NFC Championship Game. It went down to the wire and then into overtime where the Rams escaped with a 26-23 victory to deny the Saints.

Nine players reached double-digit AV on this roster, including eight on the offense. The top players were Brees (16), WR Michael Thomas (16), and Kamara (15). In the playoff win over the Eagles, the defending Super Bowl champs, New Orleans fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter before fighting back for the victory. In the NFC title title, the Saints took a late 3-point lead with 1:41 left before the Rams rallied to tie it up with 15 seconds left, and the overtime did not go N.O.’s way.

No. 2: 2009 New Orleans Saints

With a 13-3 record, these Saints won the NFC South Division with the No. 1 offense in the league. However, the defense was No. 20, amounting to the No. 2 overall ranking in the SRS. New Orleans opened the postseason with a 45-14 blowout of the Arizona Cardinals, followed up by a narrow 31-28 victory in the NFC Championship over the Vikings. In the Super Bowl, the Saints overcame a 10-0 first-quarter deficit to claim their first NFL championship in the team’s existence.

Eight players earned double-digit AV for the SB champs, led by Brees (16), safety Darren Sharper (13), and WR Marques Colston (11). The postseason matchup against the Vikings was a back-and-forth affair that went into overtime, and the Saints were able to escape with a game-winning field goal. In the Super Bowl, though, New Orleans had to shake off a slow start, and this play perhaps is the one everyone remembers most: a gutsy call that was the springboard to victory.

No. 1: 2011 New Orleans Saints

The 13-win season seems to be the norm here for most of these teams. This squad was no exception, finishing first in the NFC South again. One more time, the Saints also had the No. 1 finish in the SRS rankings, overall, thanks to the No. 2 offense and the No. 13 defense. Opening the postseason with a 45-28 romp over the Detroit Lions set the stage for one of the great playoff games in recent NFL history: a 36-32 victory for the San Francisco 49ers over the Saints that was nuts.

Brees (20 AV) was part of a trio of players to reach that incredible value threshold, along with offensive guard Jahri Evans (20) and offensive tackle Carl Nicks (20). New Orleans outscored Detroit, 35-14, in the second half of the playoff matchup, but against the 49ers, it was the final four minutes that everyone remembers as both teams scored two touchdowns apiece in that time span. San Francisco came out on top, only because the Saints ran out of time to score.