Ask any Falcons fan which team they despise the most and almost always the answer will be the same: The New Orleans Saints.
In a rivalry that dates back to the beginning of both franchises, the Falcons and Saints have absolutely hated each other’s guts, and this Sunday is no exception.
The 8-0 Atlanta Falcons will march into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in southern Louisiana to take on a struggling, but somehow still surviving New Orleans Saints (3-5).
One thing I can say about Saints fans are that they are true to their team and stand behind them whether they are good or bad. I can’t say the same for Atlanta, although over the years support for the Falcons has gotten much better. Just this season alone I’ve seen more and more Falcons' flags on the side of cars, people rocking Falcons’ gear, and just an overall increase in the cities support for the home team.
The Falcons lead the overall regular-season series 45-40 against the Saints, but who can forget that lop-sided victory last December when the Saints crushed the Falcons 45-16. That was also the same game where Drew Breese surpassed Dan Marino’s single season passing record.
This year is a totally different story for both teams. The Saints are feeling the after effects of the much polarized bounty scandal which resulted in head coach Sean Peyton being suspended for the season. The Falcons however are on a complete tear this year and are in pursuit of a perfect season and a possible trip to the Super Bowl.
So, can the Saints upset the Falcons?
Well, there’s always a possibility, but I think the answer is no.
As for the game itself, I think the Falcons will win, but it won’t come easy. There’s something about division rivalry games that brings out the best in the unexpected. In order for the Falcons to win this game they must, and I repeat, they must first stop the running game of the Saints. This includes the three-headed monster of Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram. If the Falcons’ defense can successfully accomplish this then they will force Drew Breese to throw the ball. If this is the case, I look for the Falcons’ secondary to step up big and come away with some game-changing interceptions.
I expect the Falcons to win the game hands down, but I also expect the Dirty Birds will have a slow start, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Offensively look for Matt Ryan to put the ball into running back Michael Turner’s hands early on to establish the running game. As the game progresses I can expect Ryan to connect more with his ensemble of talented receivers.
At the end of the day the Falcons will win in New Orleans and increase their record to 9-0.