While the Atlanta Falcons‘ ultimate goal is to be the first team to bring back the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the 47-year history of the franchise, the defending NFC South champions first priority is to deny the New Orleans Saints‘ attempt to overthrow them and push them out to the streets once again.
Ever since a 6-foot guy named Drew Brees became the Saints’ new quarterback in 2006, there has been no question about the dominant force the Saints have become, in particularly against the Falcons. The Saints have posted an amazing 11-3 record against the Dirty Birds.
In that time span, Brees has led his team to a Super Bowl victory, conquered the NFC South with a dictatorship rule and won four straight against the Falcons before finally losing to them at the Georgia Dome in what was considered a “down” year for the Saints. Even though the Falcons have turned the tables and become a team to be feared across the league, they know that the Saints have had their number and dominated this rivalry since the arrival of their “Saint”.
As the Falcons and Saints collide in the season opener on Sept. 8 at the Superdome; old fires will rekindle and the fierce, violent rivalry will be at full strength.
While the Falcons enter their regular season after an impressive 2012 campaign during which they notched their first playoff victory in the Matt Ryan/Mike Smith Era, the impure Saints had a humbling experience, as they were punished for being unholy with their Bounty Scandal.
For their actions, the NFL suspended key players such as defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma, but the most damage came when coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012-13 NFL season.
Brees still led his team to a respectable 7-9 record and led the No. 1 passing attack with 312.3 passing yards per game. With the offense still there, it was their defense that suffered the most, as they ranked near the bottom in both passing and rushing defense.
With that behind them though, the Saints have seemed to find their swagger, as they are eager and ambitious to knock out the Falcons. Linebacker Junior Galette explains why he thinks the rivalry has been one-sided.
“Maybe they’re scared to come in the Dome. But we beat them at home, at their house, too,” Galette told reporters, according to NOLA.com, which posted video of his comments. “I don’t really know what it is. I just feel like we want to dominate the division. Our main focus after we dominate the division is to do everything else, wing the NFC. But our main focus is to dominate the division. Atlanta is one of the better teams in the division.”