The team has been phenomenal and inspirational, but is a playoff loss the best way for an inexperienced, recently-terrible team to go through?
Look at Detroit.
It's not been a great season to be a Lions fan, which would be a problematic statement if it didn't also mean that it's been one of the three or four best seasons to be a Lions fan in the past 15 years.
They've been on national TV as much this year (five times) as they had in the previous four years combined.
The team has lost, and lost magnificently, but most of the games have been exciting and eventful.
Matt Stafford is going to throw for 5,000 yards again, and Calvin Johnson has already set the NFL record for receiving yards in a season.
Better still, with a little help this weekend they can clinch something that seemed impossible just a few weeks ago: A top-three pick April's draft.
Sure, this seemed like a dream scenario when the Lions got to 4-4 midway through the year, but if Detroit can lose to Chicago (very possible) and the Eagles and Raiders both win, the Lions will secure the third pick.
Detroit made the playoffs a year ago, which was fun and positive and engaging, but it was still obvious the team wasn't ready to compete.
They can score in bunches, but the defense is ... less good.
There are holes, and they're the same holes that were there last offseason.
But the Lions drafted 23, took a player (offensive tackle Riley Reiff) that was neither elite nor at a position of need (defensive back).
The best players were long gone by the time Detroit drafted, and it wasn't just in the first round. The 10-win season of 2011 set the team back in every round.
That's what made this year so important: another good season and they become the Falcons -- trapped between nine and 12 wins -- for the foreseeable future.
Detroit wasn't ready to win a Super Bowl, but losing in the first round every year is a thrill that wears off quickly. Without high picks, the team would be trapped in perpetual decentness.
Now that they've been bad, they can go back to trying to be good.
The Colts might be in the same boat.
They've played over their heads all year and been one of the best stories of the season, but they aren't ready to win big, and they've got plenty of holes.
The offensive line is a weakness, as are the running backs, and the defense continues to not stop anyone from rushing on it. Unless a healthy Bob Sanders walks back through the door, that's unlikely to change.
That seems ridiculous since the former safety is 31 and out of the league, but Sanders is younger than several of the Colts most important players (Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney and Adam Vinatieri.)
The best way to improve a team is through the draft, and the best way to do that is to draft early.
Colts fans will get to savor the team playing in opening round of the playoffs in a couple weeks, but, like the Lions last year, the team isn't yet ready to win it all just yet.
To get there, they might just have to go back to losing.