Neither team likes the other, and the same can be said of the fan base. The Falcon’s motto of late has been to ‘rise up’ and ride the path to glory. The Saints and their fan base, meanwhile, are quick to remind Atlanta fans that ‘Falcons’ is actually short for ‘Fans Always Counting On Next Season.’
All joking and playful kidding aside, these are two talented teams in the same division that do not like each other and play as such. Of the eight games these teams have played against one another in the regular season since the 2009 season, six of these games have been decided by eight points or less. Two of these eight games resulted in overtime, with the Saints and Falcons each coming away with a win.
During this same period of time, save for one 29-point victory in 2011 by New Orleans, the winning team has won by no more than 10 points. The Saints have won six of these games during this period, while the Falcons have won two and also have the most recent win, having won in late November of last season.
It was a point of pride for New Orleans to split the regular season matchups against the Falcons last year, having been suffering from the fallout of the Bounty Gate scandal and the suspension of head coach Sean Payton. I am hopeful that Payton’s return, Drew Brees’ hunger for another playoff run and a new-look defense will be enough to once again tip the balance of power in New Orleans’ favor.
I don’t think many would argue that Atlanta has some better talent on their roster, particularly at the wide receiver positions and with the newly-acquired Steven Jackson in the Falcons’ backfield. I also believe that most football fans would agree New Orleans has the benefit of better coaching in Payton.
Nothing against Mike Smith of the Falcons, but Payton has proven himself to be a capable game manager, offensive mastermind and player motivator. That Atlanta was only able to beat New Orleans once last season, and by only 10 points, is telling. It is for these reasons I once again expect the Saints to continue their dominance over Atlanta.
New Orleans may not take the NFC South, but I am almost positive they will take the Falcons.