It Ends Here: New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons Preview

Coming off of a big Monday night win against Philadelphia, the Saints are 3-5.  They’re still in a hole, but there is also still hope for the rest of the season.  If only there was something that could really inject some life into the team and its fan base…hmm, if only there was such a thing…

Oh yeah, how about a chance to end the franchise-best start of their hated rivals?

That’s right, I’m calling it now.  The Falcons’ unbeaten season comes to an end Sunday in the Superdome.  It’s all coming together so perfectly.

And let’s get this out of the way right now: the Falcons are a good team.  I’m not saying they’re not.  But let’s also be honest with ourselves: anyone calling them the best team in the league right now because of their record needs a reality check.  They’re 8-0, but it has to be the least impressive 8-0 in NFL history.

With a couple of exceptions, they’ve been hanging on for dear life, or mounting late comebacks to beat nearly everyone on their schedule, including such juggernauts as Carolina and Oakland.  For a comparison, when the Saints began 13-0 in 2009, they were dominating most of their games early on, and didn’t start squeaking out close wins until later on in their run.

The Saints also won the Super Bowl that year, while Atlanta currently looks poised to repeat their performance of the last couple of seasons, where they win a lot of regular season games, go to the playoffs, and get destroyed by New York or Green Bay or someone in their first game (this year I’m thinking it might be Chicago).

[caption id="attachment_477" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Get ready, Matty Ice."][/caption]

But while Atlanta’s been racking up underwhelming win after underwhelming win, New Orleans has been slowly getting better and better.  After an early losing streak, they’ve won 3 of 4: two solid but unspectacular victories over San Diego and Tampa Bay, a loss against Denver on a night when everything went right for the Broncos and they were simply the better team, and finally the big win over the Eagles on Monday night.

Personnel-wise, while Darren Sproles’ injury certainly hurts, Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram stepped up big Monday night to fill the void at running back.  Their coaching turnover is finished (at least for this season), everyone is in their place, and they’re in position to make the big push for the rest of the season.

[caption id="attachment_476" align="alignright" width="300" caption="You give him 10 carries, he gives you 48 yards and a TD. Who could've seen that coming? You know, besides EVERYONE?"][/caption]

Furthermore, in recent years, the Saints have owned the Falcons in head-to-head matchups.  Since 2009, the Saints are 5-1 in their meetings, and are a missed 27-yard field goal in overtime from being 6-0 in that span.  Most of the games have been close, but the Saints have found ways to beat Atlanta.

This all brings me to Sunday.  The Saints know that they need to win this game; their season likely depends on it.  The fans know this as well, which means the Dome will be rocking.  And the Falcons will come in overconfident, cocky…and vulnerable.  They’ve been begging to get beaten, but none of the other teams have been able to oblige them.  The Saints have the firepower to do it.  And they will.

Let’s call it 34-27, Saints.

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