Welcome to the pre-game, quick hit, stats-apalooza. This is a broad, statistical overview of the current Atlanta Falcons' opponent. This week, it's the New Orleans Saints. The Saints will fly 429 miles Northeast to play the Falcons at the Georgia Dome. This game is the first time the Falcons will play a home game since Nov. 28, a span of 30 days. The Falcons have already clinched a playoff berth but would win the NFC South and secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a win. So, yes, this is what you'd call a big game.
The Saints could earn a playoff berth with a win but could also get in if they lose as long as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose to the Seattle Seahawks. For the Falcons, they could still clinch homefield advantage even with a loss. With a two-game lead in the NFC, a win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 17 guarantees the NFC playoffs go through Atlanta. In the meantime though, let's learn a little bit about our guests.
The Falcons are a similar path the Saints were. In 2008, the Saints struggled to an 8-8 record before going 13-3 the next season and winning the Super Bowl. Last season, the Falcons struggled to a 9-7 record and are on their way to a 14-2 campaign this year. A five-game improvement and a Super Bowl title? Here's hoping the similarities continue.
The Saints have 11 active players over 30 years of age with 35-year old Darren Sharper the elder of the bunch. The Falcons have 12 players older than 30, with Tony Gonzalez leading the way with 13 years in the league.
SERIES HISTORY:This will be the sixth meeting between the Falcons and Saints in the Mike Smith era. The last time these two teams met was in Week 3 when the Falcons escaped with a 27-24 overtime win. With the Saints virtually locked in to the No. 5 seed, there is a high probability that the Saints and Falcons will be playing again in three more weeks in the conference semi-finals.
Falcons Vs. Saints
This will be the 83rd meeting between the Falcons and Saints. The Falcons lead the all-time series 46-37 but are 2-3 since Mike Smith took over.
The Falcons record against the Saints (by decade):
- 2000s …8-13
- 1990s …14-7
- 1980s …9-10
- 1970s …14-6
- 1960s …1-1
Average Score since 2008:
- Falcons 27.2
- Saints 26.8
Average Yards since 2008:
- Falcons 405.2
- Saints 432.2
Most Points Scored:
Falcons 44, Dec. 30, 2007
Highlight: Chris Redman throws four touchdowns and the Falcons score 24 in the fourth quarter to win 44-41 at the Georgia Dome.
Saints 41, Dec. 30, 2007
Fewest Points Scored:
Falcons, 10, Dec. 3, 2000
Saints 15, Dec. 15, 1991
- The Saints have won four in a row against the Falcons two different times, most recently between 2000 and 2005.
- The Falcons won two in a row between 1991 and 1997.
The Saints' Sean Payton is 52-31 as a head coach and is 8-6 lifetime against the Falcons as part of the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and Saints. He is 2-2 in Week 16 games all-time.
Best Individual Performances Against the Saints:
- Passing: Jeff George, 386 yards, 1995
- Rushing: Gerald Riggs, 202 yards, 1984
- Receiving: Terance Mathis, 198 yards, 1998
- Sacks: Chuck Smith, 5, 1997
Best Career Numbers Against the Saints:
- Passing: Steve Bartkowski, 2832 yards in 16 games
- Rushing: Warrick Dunn, 887 yards in 12 games
- Receiving: Terance Mathis, 948 yards in 16 games
- Sacks: Travis Hall, 12.5 in seven games