Like last year’s home stand against the New Orleans Saints, this was expected to not count for anything beyond records and the rivalry. That changed last week. Arizona won in Seattle to put the Seahawks a game behind us in the standings. As a result, we can clinch a Wild Card bye by finishing the sweep of New Orleans.
Now, most are treating this as almost a must-win for Atlanta. I respectfully disagree. Remember that we’ve been lights out on the road, going 6-2 away from home. So I’m going to break from popular opinion and say that we don’t need home field. A bye would give us a chance to get a little healthier, but with us already getting people back, even that may be overrated.
One thing that might worry me is that if we lose and the Packers win in Detroit, we might need to win in the freezing cold of wintertime Lambeau. Ooh! I guess it’s no worse than three trips to the West Coast in which we went 2-1, but I’d much rather avoid it.
Despite our poor record against Drew Brees, we’re heavily favored to win over the Saints. Should we be? Yes. One category we’ve dominated in the Matt Ryan era is one-sided games. We’ve won four of the six games in this era that were decided by ten points or more. The reason we’ve been getting dominated in this rivalry is because we’ve been failing to execute on the last drive of the game.
With our elite offense and the defense getting better, I think we can win a close one. But the chances that it comes to that are small. I expect a game similar to what was seen last week in Carolina, but less one sided (35-24). The reason is that unlike the Panthers, the Saints at least have an offense headlined by Drew Brees, Bradon Cooks, and a rock-solid offensive line that can keep them in games. But their defense can’t stop us from scoring a lot of points on them.
This could even get to be a blowout if our pass rushers really get to Brees, but I doubt it. But a win’s a win, especially for the #2 seed. RISE UP!!!