The Saints and Falcons have battled for the NFC South title each of the last three years. Their six matchups have been among the most intriguing and compelling series over that span. We’ve had five of the six end in one possession games, two by a field goal, and two more in overtime. Oh, and the only other one? That was near the end of last year when Drew Brees and the Saints kept passing so that he could set the yardage record at home.
This year has a different feel, with the Falcons having a significant advantage in the standings. The Saints are a longshot to rally to reach the playoffs, and pretty much any path must involve a win against the Falcons today. Expect an offensive shootout. The Saints haven’t stopped anyone, even giving up a bunch of yards to the Eagles but getting key turnovers and red zone plays. Atlanta should be able to move the ball at will. New Orleans will again have to make some key defensive plays to swing a series or two, a sack here, a fumble there.
If recent history is any indication, though, this one could come down to a controversial decision or a late field goal attempt.
Other Early Games:
Oakland at Baltimore: Darren McFadden is out for Oakland, so they may have to open up the passing game even more against Baltimore. The Ravens need to put together an impressive performance, particularly on offense where the matchup would suggest the opportunity is there.
Denver at Carolina: AFC West/NFC South reunion #1, as John Fox returns to Carolina. He comes in with a quarterback slightly better than Jake Delhomme.
San Diego at Tampa Bay: AFC West/NFC South reunion #2, as Vincent Jackson has been blowing up earning the money that A.J. Smith and he battled over for years.
NY Giants at Cincinnati: The Giants offense has been struggling the last few weeks converting third downs, while the Bengals have fallen to 3-5 and are in desperate need of a home win.
Tennessee at Miami: Jake Locker returns for Tennessee, but what they really need is the return of the 2000 defensive unit.
Detroit at Minnesota: What a difference six weeks makes, as these teams’ fortunes have changed since Minnesota won at Detroit to go to 3-1 and drop the Lions to 1-3. Percy Harvin is out, and so the offense which has had zero other passing playmakers (other than Rudolph in the red zone until he disappeared recently) will rely on Adrian Peterson even more.
Buffalo at New England: The last time the Bills and Patriots got together, the Bills were winning, until Tom Brady went off and Vince Wilfork’s wife got happy.
[photo via US Presswire]