Rivalry Showdown, Saints at Falcons: The Rematch

December 22, 2010 by

Falcons Saints Football

Listen, this is my favorite game every season. I only get two of these a season but there is a very real possibility it could be three times this year. Being a native of Louisiana the rivalry between these two has always given me something to look forward to each season. Their first meeting this season ended with a Falcons victory in the Super Dome. Saints fans and players alike have a bad taste in their mouth from that one. Had Garrett Hartley made his kick, this game may mean more to the Falcons. Currently, it’s just a speed bump to the playoffs to Atlanta.

I chatted with one of my best friends Scott  last night who is a die-hard Saints fan. I’ve known Scott many many years so he’s not one of your typical come of late Saints fans who jumped the bandwagon in 2006. He and I have attended and watched this rivalry a very long time. In his own words, he said, “I’ve never truly hated the Falcons before because both teams have never been good enough at the same time to really hate. Now, I can say with all honesty I hate them.”

Pretty bold statement. I was there in the Super Dome with him when Michael Vick took a two minute offense and ran in the winning TD for a 37-35 victory. That was a long drive back from New Orleans, but even then he didn’t really ‘hate’ Atlanta. But now that the Falcons have found success, I’m noticing Saints fans everywhere truly hate Atlanta now. It’s almost comical. They win a Super Bowl and within one year get a superiority complex that doesn’t allow a fellow division rival to enjoy their success.I feel dirty now, I cheered for the Saints last season. I had no idea the monster it would eventually create from the fan base.

Anyways, normally I do my research and write my articles but today I felt like reading more fan opinion. They are typically more knowledgeable than 90% of the prognosticators on their favorite team. Did I ever find some gems! Another close friend of mine who is a Saints fanatic (got the tattoo after the SB win) led me to his board. Here are some snippets I located.

Saint Brees from SaintsReport.com – “Mark my words that garbage will get slaughtered like the weasels they are. They should have prayed to god the Saints pull out a win yesterday. Because now there is nothing left but an ass whupping for the Falcons. Their fans know it as do those scrubs they call players. Not only will they get slaughtered but they will be so scarred and shattered that they won’t be able to function again.”

I’m from Louisiana so people like this just disappoint me. It’s no wonder the rest of the country believe we are inbred. So I kept reading, and as expected it gets better.

Dome50 posts – “Matt Ryan better pray to the God of Skinny Punks that Sed Ellis doesn’t get his hands on him. I know some here hate predictions, but I predict pain…..for Matt Ryan specifically.”

Who is Sed Ellis? I know, I’m being a smart ass but seriously… who is he? Sure, he’s having a great season for a tackle but when you have to list a defensive tackle as your pain giver you’re selling your linemen out. The truth of the matter is John Abraham has more sacks than the entire starting Saints line. Perhaps Brees should be the one praying eh? He is a Saint after all.

That brings me to the Saints made Play 60 commercial alternate. After spending decades listening to Cowboys fans brag and be classless, it only took one Super Bowl win to get them on the track to Cowboy fan status.

Lets move on to ESPN anal cyst Trent Dilfer. I know, he’s the garbage man of Super Bowl wins but he made a statement this week.

OFF TOPIC A LITTLE: I never thought it was possible to suck as bad as Dilfer and amount to anything. Lucky for him, Ray Lewis helped him get a ring. In that fateful season, Dilfer tossed 12 TDs and 11 ints with a massive 1502 yards passing. The fact that he has a job analyzing football is amazing. In his 14 year career, he passed for more TDs than Interceptions exactly four times. FOUR! He ended his career with 113 TDs and 129 interceptions. I believe Tom Brady tossed more touchdowns in three seasons than Dilfer did in his career.

Anywho, here is his opinion on the Falcons this season. This is from Pat Y on ESPN who covers the NFC South.

“I’ll just quickly summarize what Dilfer said. He pretty strongly said the Atlanta Falcons are not the best team in the NFL. He went on to compare them to the 2003 Kansas City Chiefs, who went 13-3 in the regular season, but promptly got bounced in the playoffs. Then, to put the star on the top of the tree, Dilfer went on to say the Falcons are not indestructible at home. As a matter of fact, Dilfer said he thinks the New Orleans Saints can come into the Georgia Dome on Monday night and win, and he wasn’t done there. Dilfer also said the Saints could come back to the Georgia Dome in the playoffs and knock off the Falcons.”

Yes folks, Trent Dilfer… When an elite QB like Dilfer says something, people listen. Just like riveting commentary from geniuses like Skip Bayless. Remember when you had to pass an IQ exam before becoming a TV analyst?

Try this on Dilfer. The Falcons are 12-2, #1 in the NFC and tied for the best record in the NFL with the New England Patriots. The same Patriots who almost lost at home to the Green Bay Packers (whom the Falcons beat) against first time starter, former LSU quarterback Matt Flynn. What’s sad is Flynn is a better QB than Dilfer. That said, yes the Falcons are the best team in the NFC. All that matters are wins Trent.

Well, needless to say that statement got under the skin of some of the Falcons. Roddy White made a comment on his Twitter account that created a frenzy. Saints players got involved in the war of words. This game will have quite a few hard feelings involved.

Whites response to Dilfers comments follows as such: @roddywhiteTV, “No chance in hell the Aints come into the dome and win once trent dilfer.”

Saints players fired back:

Defensive End Will Smith @iwillsmith,”Wondering how @roddywhitetv has the audacity to call us AINTS” with this picture attached.”

Offensive lineman Jonathan Goodwin, @jgoody76, “Just got even more excited for Monday!”

So I guess being a bad QB gets you analyst jobs and eventually your name back in the spot light. So if that was Dilfers intention, mission accomplished! Regardless, it fire up the Saints fans that much more. The Falcons fans took the attitude that Roddy should just keep his mouth shut.

Lets move on to actual news. I was looking over some of the accomplishments of Matt Ryan and these came as a bit of a surprise.

  • Ryan has been blitzed 195 times (2nd most in the NFL) this season. He has been sacked exactly five times during those blitzes.That is the fewest in the NFL.
  • Ryan’s career record as a starter is 32-12. Only Dan Marino (33-10) has won more games in his first three seasons. Ryan still has two games remaining to break that record.
  • Ryan tied Joe Namath for TD passes in his first three seasons at 63. That places him 4th on the all-time list.

Ryan is having a fantastic season thus far. He’s become the Matty Ice people expected to see in the NFL. He has led 8 fourth quarter comebacks in his career so far and his winning percentage is among the best in NFL history. Keep in mind, when he came in to the league he came in with a team that had just replaced it’s GM, Coach and offensive identity in Michael Vick.

Here is an update on the current playoff situation for these two teams.

Atlanta Falcons (12-2) – Have clinched a playoff berth. Would clinch the NFC South, a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs with a win or tie vs. the Saints.

New Orleans Saints (10-4) – Would clinch a playoff berth with a win at the Falcons, or both a Packers loss or tie and a Buccaneers loss or tie. Would clinch the NFC South, a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs with two wins and a Falcons Week 17 loss to the Panthers.

I honestly can’t see the Falcons losing at home against the Panthers but I suppose stranger things have happened. I personally believe this game against New Orleans is a statement for the entire franchise at this point. Falcons coach Mike Smith is 2-3 in his last 5 meetings against the Saints. Prior to that, the Saints swept the Falcons the first two seasons after acquiring Drew Brees. Part of changing the culture of the team is beating your biggest rival.

But overall statistically, the two teams are very similar.  I’ve listed some important ones below. Thanks again to the SaintsReport.com having those listed on their message board so I don’t have to spend additional time looking them up.

Redzone Scoring %

  • Saints 17th 50%
  • Falcons 7th 60.8%

Redzone Defense

  • Saints 5th 42.5%
  • Falcons 19th 52.6%

Points Scored Per Game

  • Saints 7th 25.3
  • Falcons 5th 26.4

Points Allowed Per Game

  • Saints 9th 19.3
  • Falcons 7th 18.6

3rd Down Conversion %

  • Saints 1st 48.9
  • Falcons 2nd 48.4

3rd Down Conversion Defense % Allowed

  • Saints 9th 35.4
  • Falcons 22nd 39.8

Yards Per Rush Attempt

  • Saints 21st 4.0
  • Falcons 24th 3.9

Yards Allowed Per Rush Attempt

  • Saints 19th 4.4
  • Falcons 25th 4.6

Yards Per Pass Attempt

  • Saints 9th 6.9
  • Falcons 25th 6.2

Yards Allowed Per Pass Attempt

  • Saints 9th 6.2
  • Falcons 19th 6.7

Passing Touchdowns Allowed Per Game

  • Saints 1st 0.7
  • Falcons 16th 1.5

Penalties Per Game

  • Saints 9th 5.5
  • Falcons 1st 3.8

Opponent Penalties Per Game

  • Saints 22nd 5.7
  • Falcons 7th 7.0

Giveaways Per Game

  • Saints 18th 1.9
  • Falcons 3rd 1.0

Takeways Per Game

  • Saints 19th 1.5
  • Falcons 6th 1.9

I suppose the summary to those is that the Falcons do not beat themselves. No foolish penalties, no unnecessary throws into traffic, no fumbling the ball. Just pure and simple ball control offense and a capitalizing defense.

I heard the weather is supposed to be very cold, with chances of snow. Granted, it will not effect the dome environment but I’ll be bundled up at the tailgate. This is going to be a good show and I would expect it to be one of the highest rated MNF games of the year. Lets hope both teams leave this game healthy and when the playoffs begin, no excuses. Just football!

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    4 Responses to “Rivalry Showdown, Saints at Falcons: The Rematch”
    • gary marks says:

      This is fatnastic analysis. What a game we have on the schedule for this MOnday, huh? Bet ESPN doesn’t mind all the Falcons reacting to Dilfer’s comments either. That draws some unique publicity.

    • Randy Bruden says:

      The Saints have something none of the Falcons players have: experience in big games. That has to mean something, right?

    • george says:

      Atlanta is a ball control team that is not always the most exciting to watch, but that style of play is very sustainable and consistent. The saints on the other hand rely so much on big plays….

    • Rick Bridges says:

      Thanks Gary, this game is close to my heart being a native of Louisiana. Dilfers comments gave them a break from Brett Favre I suppose.

      Randy, the Buffalo Bills had four straight years of playoff experience and it didn’t help them much. That said, experience is always a good thing. The Falcons are a very young team but the vets (Abraham, Gonzo, McClure, Peterson) should be able to keep the young guys heads in the game.

      George, I agree. The Falcons are capable of the big play but without Norwood it’s a little tougher. The Falcons will go out and try and dominate time of possession like they did last time. It’s the best way to control Drew Brees.

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