Drew Brees doesn't want to back into playoffs; Saints aiming higher

METAIRIE, La. -- Drew Brees has already admitted multiple times that he's "annoyingly optimistic."

But he's just plain annoyed whenever people suggest that the 4-7 New Orleans Saints can benefit from playing in one of the worst divisions in NFL history.

Brees isn't interested in "backing in" to the playoffs.

"I don't care," Brees said when the subject came up Wednesday. "I don't care what the rest of the division does. I really don't. I'm not even thinking about them. Put it this way: If I play Tiger Woods in golf and he beat me, he shot 79 and I shot 80, is he gonna be happy? Did he play up to his potential by doing that? No he didn't.

"So for us, we shouldn't be worried about just winning the division by one game because everybody in the division is 4-7 or less right now. No, let's play to our potential. Let's worry about us and the way we know we can play."

Both Brees and coach Sean Payton have acknowledged, however, that there is value in the fact that they still have something to play for and "control their own destiny."

For that reason, the goals remain lofty. Payton said he has made references to players about other teams that have survived slumps and gotten hot at the right time -- like the 2011 New York Giants, who lost four straight games to fall to 6-6 before winning the Super Bowl.

Payton said he's even referenced teams in other sports. Someone asked about the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who were down 3-0 to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series before going on to win the World Series.

"There you go," Payton said. "I think you're constantly as a teacher trying to do that. You look closely at some parallels, some comparisons. No different than I'm sure they're doing right now in Atlanta right now or Carolina or Tampa.

"And look, you guys have seen this happen to us before, it happened to us in '09. We lose three games in a row at the end of '09, and no team's ever lost (that many) heading into the playoffs and gone on to win a Super Bowl. And immediately after the first playoff win, that's all gone. It dissipates.

"But in order for that to happen, we need to find a way to improve. Obviously we're not playing well enough right now."

The challenge doesn't get any easier for the Saints this week -- on the road against a good team in the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4). But after losing three straight games at home, Brees suggested it might actually be a good change-up to hit the road.

There's that "annoyingly optimistic" side of him kicking in again.

"I'd say for the young guys, the biggest thing that we can do as veteran guys is just show them a presence as to how you handle this situation. And our presence is being positive, encouraging," Brees said. "We're about to hit the tipping point. I believe that. It's only a matter of time before we're gonna catch some breaks, we're gonna start to win. And hopefully those wins will come in bunches. But we gotta get the first one first."