Week 17 Preview: Saints vs. Falcons

Final game of the season and the first game of 2017. The game that will decide where the Falcons will be seeded in the NFL playoffs. A heated rivalry game that will come down to the wire.

Saints Kickoff: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at the Georgia Dome.

TV: FOX

Week 16 Recap:

Both teams pulled wins against the other two teams in the division.

New Orleans got revenge on Winston and the Buccaneers from their game in week 14. Mr. Jairus Byrd comes up with 2 interceptions giving the offense great field position in which they capitalized to score points. The offense played like they have all season, with an objective to put points on the board. Brees threw for 299 yards, and 1 touchdown. Ingram finished off the job for the offense scoring 2 touchdowns and rushing for 90 yards. The win put Tampa Bay in a tough spot to try and clinch a playoff spot for themselves.

Atlanta found themselves showing last year’s Superbowl finalists how it’s done in 2016. Ryan threw for 277 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the backfield Coleman saw less carries, but averaged 10 yards a carry, and found the end zone once against the Panthers. With the win, and the loss by the Buccaneers, the Falcons clinched the NFC South.

Last 3 Meetings:

The most recent between these two teams ended with a win for the Falcons in the Superdome. Final score: Falcons 45 – Saints 32. The game in week 3 was a preview to how each team would play for the rest of the season. The Falcons used their two backs wisely, and Ryan was efficient in the game, as he threw for 240 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Brees on the other hand threw for 376 yards, and 3 touchdowns, but ultimately couldn’t keep up with the Atlanta offense.

Saints have won the last 2 of 3 meeting against the Falcons. The last meeting in Atlanta had the Saints coming out on top with a 20-17 final.

The Falcons lead the all-time series lead at 50-45.

What to Watch For:

A Renewed Saints Team – Last week against Tampa Bay we saw glimpse of what this Saints team can really become. Byrd finally showed why he was given a big contract, intercepting Winston twice in the game. Since the last meeting between these two, Ingram was benched and the birth of a running back by committee was born for the Saints. Each of the two backs, Ingram and Hightower have had their time to shine.

Dec 24, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) runs for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Numbers – Some of N.O.’s offensive members are reaching milestone numbers this season, and are faced with the awful reality that this is the last game to accomplish some of these milestones. Let break down some of the players that have achievements worth fighting for. Ingram needs 29 rushing yards to pass Dalton Hilliard for third most rushing yards in franchise history. Cameron Jordan needs 0.5 or half a sack to tie Charles Grant for the 8th most sacks in franchise history, one full sack will give him sole possession of 8th on that list. The members of the Saints have to focus on the bigger picture to defeat this Falcons team. Motivated Saints members will push through to accomplish individual goals, as well as knock the Falcons out of their first-round bye.

With the way both of these teams are playing, expect this meeting to be a battle of the quarterbacks. Defenses must step up to win this ball game for their team.

Playoff Implications:

Lets make this section short and concise. Sadly, the New Orleans Saints are out of the playoffs. Atlanta is sitting in a playoff chair, but their fate still hangs in the balance of this final game. The Seahawks, that’s right the Seahawks are all cheering for the Saints this Sunday. Our temporary fan base has grown this weekend. The Saints have embraced their role as spoilers already. They defeated the Buccaneers last week to diminish any playoff hopes they have, and this week they must spoil the Falcons dreams of obtaining the first-round bye.

Prediction:

I would want nothing less than to start off the year 2017 with a win against the Falcons. The Saints and Who Dat nation will start the 2017 on a high note. Saints 38 – Falcons 31. Take away the first-round bye away from the Falcons! The Saints will give everyone a happy new year, and a great start to 2017 to all of the Who Dat Nation!

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