For the first time since the 2007 and '08 seasons – the second and third of Coach Sean Payton's career as head coach of the New Orleans Saints – New Orleans will finish with consecutive, non-winning seasons.
New Orleans is 4-8 entering Sunday's game against the Buccaneers (6-6) at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., after finishing 7-9 last season.
Yet, big-picture wise, the focus less is on winning the last four games and leveling the season's record at .500, than it is on simply winning Sunday's game to snap the current four-game losing streak.
"The point is, this is what we do for a living," Payton said. "This is what we put on film each week. You draw from the competitiveness of guys who are wanting to do well, who are wanting to improve. This gets back to why you get the right type of guys.
"You don't like (losing), you loathe it. But you're able to get back to work on Wednesday and move on to the next game with the correct preparation and trying to improve. That's kind of been our focus."
It's a focus that few of these Saints have had to experience.
Only the four remaining players from Payton's first season in 2006 – quarterback Drew Brees, receiver Marques Colston, right guard Jahri Evans and right tackle Zach Strief – were with the franchise when last the team had consecutive non-winning seasons.
Thus, they best know how to approach teammates about the subject of finishing strong.
"That's been addressed," Brees said. "I also think that we have the type of maturity here that lends itself to coming to work every day with enthusiasm and positivity, just feeling like, 'We haven't played our best football yet, so let's see what that looks like. Let's continue to work toward that and continue to get better and better.'
"Obviously, at the end of the day, the result needs to be winning. But let's see how good we can get by the end of this season.
"It's our job, to each and every week, put ourselves in the best position to go out and win. So execute the game plan, do our job, and win the game. (And) pride (plays a part). Whether you're a veteran guy or you're a young guy who's trying to establish yourself – even veteran guys, you've always got something to prove.
"You always have to prove your worth, that you mean enough to this team for them to keep you around. When things don't go well, it's easy for people outside the building to want to point blame at certain people. At the end of the day, does that cause more turnover at the end of the year? I don't know. I feel like we're building something good here with the type of guys that we have. Things haven't quite gone the way that we planned, but I think that our ability to really show great improvement and show a positive direction as to where we're headed over these next four games, is crucial."
It's crucial, because the Saints want to leave a positive impression from a strong finish.
"Honestly, if we can win out the rest of these games, it'll be a highlight for our season," defensive end Cam Jordan said. "That's something that we have to take (into account)."