OK folks this is real simple: If the bench mark to get into the post season is 10 wins then the Saints must finish the regular season 5-0. And if you think that the last meeting between rivals Atlanta and New Orleans was big, this one is far bigger for both clubs.
The Falcons can lock up the NFC South, keep a strong hold on the #1 seed in the conference, and end the Saints’ playoff hopes with a win over the Black and Gold. On the flip side, the Saints can keep their playoff hopes alive and make even more doubt how good the Falcons are with a sweep over the Dirty Birds.
These two teams played just a few weeks ago and now Tonight’s brawl in the ATL will kick off this weekend’s NFL Schedule. Atlanta is a team that knows how to win the close games. Seven of the Falcons’ ten wins this season have been by a touchdown or less.
You can best believe that this one will be another close game between the two. New Orleans did play one of the best games of the season in the first contest between the two, and that type effort will be needed again this week if the Saints are to knock off the Falcons.
Rush the football again! – The Saints gashed the Birds the last time they played, rushing the football for 148 yards on 29 rushing attempts. If New Orleans can rush the ball for 120 yards or more they will win this game.
Have a balanced attack – The Saints ran 61 offensive plays in the first meeting against Atlanta with tremendous balance. New Orleans passed the football 32 times for 292 yards and they rushed the ball 29 times for 148 yards. If New Orleans can have that kind of balance they have a great shot to win this game.
Protect the football – In the Saints’ five wins this season they were even or on the plus side in four of their five wins. The Saints finished even in the turnover ratio in their 31-27 victory over Atlanta three weeks ago. The winner of this game will be at least even in the turnover margin and it will probably take being on the plus side for the Saints to win.
They are who they say they are – What does this mean? Well the Falcons are 10-1, so they are a good team. The Falcons have won seven games by a touchdown or less, so we know they can win the close ones. But the Falcons offensive numbers say that they won’t last long this post season. Atlanta is rushing the football for an average of 88.3 yards per game which is 28th in the NFL. If New Orleans holds the Falcons to their average and the Saints can gain what the Falcons allow rushing, they should win this game. Two things the Falcons are not good at are rushing the football and stopping the run.
This is it! – This is it people. Win and the season is still alive, lose and then start to think about what if or would could have been. Getting in at 9-7 would be almost a miracle. In other words, the playoffs have begun for the Saints.
The Big Chief’s Final Analysis
This game should be a great one, as seemingly all of the Saints and Falcons games are. The line has the Saints as a 3 ½ point dog on the road against the Falcons. I’d take the points here. The Falcons have played real close games at home, and although Atlanta is a 10-win team, they don’t have a quality win against a quality team. Is New Orleans a quality team? Their record says they are not at 5-6. But winning 11 of the last 13 meetings says that the Saints have the Falcons’ number. Take the points.