Saints @ Falcons: Game Preview

Official NFL Release

 

MONDAY NIGHT, DECEMBER 27

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (10-4) AT ATLANTA FALCONS (12-2)

SERIES

SAINTS

FALCONS

SERIES LEADER

45-37

STREAKS

7 of past 9

COACHES VS. OPP.

Payton: 7-2

Smith: 2-3

LAST WEEK

L 30-24 at Ravens

W 34-18 at Seahawks

LAST GAME

9/26/10: Falcons 27 at Saints 24 (OT).  Atlanta K Matt Bryant converts 46-yard FG attempt with under 2 minutes remaining in OT to give Falcons division win. 

LAST GAME AT SITE

12/13/09: Saints 26, Falcons 23.  New Orleans K Garrett Hartley converts 38-yard FG with just over 4 minutes remaining to break 4th-quarter tie as Saints move to 13-0. 

BROADCAST

ESPN (8:30 PM ET): Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Jon Gruden.  Westwood One Radio: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Tony Boselli (Field reporter).  SIRIUS: 124 (WW1), 125 (NO), 126 (Atl.).  XM: 124 (WW1), 102 (NO), 103 (Atl). 

STATS

PASSING

Brees: 391-571-4,122 (1C)-31 (T1L)-19-93.5

Ryan: 320-510-3,321-25 (3C)-9-90.5

RUSHING

Ivory (R): 130-683-5.3-5

Turner: 300-1,256 (1C)-4.2-11 (T1C)

RECEIVING

Colston: 82 (T2C)-1,001-12.2-7

White: 106 (1L)-1,284 (1L)-12.1-8

OFFENSE

377.6 (3C)

349.4

TAKE/GIVE

-5

+13 (2C)

DEFENSE

312.0

332.9

SACKS

Ellis: 6

Abraham: 12 (T3L)

INTs

Greer, Jenkins: 2

Grimes, Moore: 5

PUNTING

Morstead: 46.6 (2C)

Koenen: 40.4

KICKING

Hartley: 88 (37/37 PAT; 17/22 FG)

M. Bryant: 119 (3L) (38/38 PAT; 27/30 FG)

 

NOTES

SAINTS QB DREW BREES has 4,122 yards passing & joined PEYTON MANNING as only QBs with 5+ 4,000-yard seasons in row.  Has won 7 of past 9 vs. Atl.  In past 4 MNF games, is 4-0 & has completed 91 of 120 (75.8 pct.) for 1,256 yards with 13 TDs vs. 1 INT for 141.5 rating...RB CHRISTOPHER IVORY is 2nd among NFL rookies with 683 rush yards.  RB REGGIE BUSH aims for 5th meeting in row with TD.  Has 5 TDs (4 rec., 1 rush) in past 4 vs. Atl.  RB PIERRE THOMAS has 5 TDs (3 rush, 2 rec.) in past 4 on MNF...WR MARQUES COLSTON has 5 rec. TDs in past 5 MNF contests.  WR LANCE MOORE had 6 catches for 149 yards & 2 TDs (80, 16 yards) in last meeting.  Rookie TE JIMMY GRAHAM had career-high 2 TDs last week...DT SEDRICK ELLIS aims for 3rd in row vs. Atl. with sack.  DE WILL SMITH has 3 sacks in past 3 meetings.  S ROMAN HARPER had 31-yard INT-TD in 12/10/07 meeting...

FALCONS Clinch NFC South & homefield advantage with win...QB MATT RYAN is 19-1 (.950) at home as starter.  Aims for 16th consecutive home win.  Has posted 100+ rating 15 times & Falcons are 15-0.  Tied career-high with 3 pass TDs last week...In past 8, RB MICHAEL TURNER has rushed for 790 yards (98.8 per game) & 10 TDs.  Aims for 5th in row vs. NO with rush TD.  Since 2008, has 38 rush TDs, 2nd most in NFL...WR RODDY WHITE leads NFL with 106 receptions & needs 6 to pass TERANCE MATHIS (111 in 1994) for team record.  Leads NFL with 1,284 yards & needs 99 to pass his own club mark (1,382 in 2008).  TE TONY GONZALEZ had 8 catches for 110 yards & TD in last meeting.  WR MICHAEL JENKINS had 50-yard TD in last game vs. NO...DE JOHN ABRAHAM had career-high 4 sacks vs. NO (11/4/01 with NYJ).  Has 10 sacks in past 9.  Has 101.5 sacks since 2000, 2nd most in NFL.  DT JONATHAN BABINEAUX had FR-TD last week.

   

FALCONS HOST SAINTS ON MONDAY NIGHT IN KEY NFC MATCHUP

All eyes will be on the Georgia Dome on Monday night when the first place Atlanta Falcons host the New Orleans Saints in a key NFC contest in primetime (ESPN, 8:30 PM ET). 

"It is going to be imperative for us to get that dome rocking as we get ready for the defending Super Bowl champions coming in here on Monday night," says Atlanta head coach MIKE SMITH.  "I encourage everybody to come on down to the dome and get ready to roll."

Atlanta has won eight consecutive games and owns the best record in the conference at 12-2.  The Falcons, who clinched a playoff berth last week with a win at Seattle, lead the Saints by two games and can clinch the NFC South division and secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a victory. 

"It's very satisfying for the organization," says Smith about clinching a postseason spot.  "We like the way our team has played throughout the season.  We are focused on this game because it's the next game.  We know where we're at.  It's going to be a hard-fought football game.  The Saints are playing as well as any team in the league right now.  It's a big challenge.  We know what's at stake."

The Saints have won six of their past seven games and can clinch a playoff berth with a victory (or a Tampa Bay loss or tie on Sunday).  A win would also keep New Orleans in the hunt for its second consecutive division title. 

"We're playing a good team that is playing very well right now," says Saints head coach SEAN PAYTON.  "We have two division games left and the key for us is to get our 11th win.  Right now that first opportunity comes versus Atlanta on Monday night.  We're excited about it.  We know it's a big challenge going there and facing the team we're playing.

"In our league, it's about getting yourself prepared mentally and physically ready to play your best game.  When you play a team that has won 12 games, you know that you're going to have to be prepared."

The teams met in Week 3 and the Falcons left New Orleans with a 27-24 overtime victory.  In that contest, Atlanta quarterback MATT RYAN threw two touchdown passes, running back MICHAEL TURNER rushed for 114 yards and MATT BRYANT kicked a 46-yard game-winning field goal with 1:55 remaining in overtime. 

"The first game this year was close and could have gone either way," says NFL Network analyst STEVE MARIUCCI.  "This one will be another shootout.

"The Saints have been hot and they've looked like the defending champions.  The Falcons have been great at home.  If there's an advantage, it's that confidence that Atlanta has playing at home in the dome.  They believe they can get it done and will get it done." 

Among the keys to the game will be the play of the quarterbacks. 

In his career, Ryan is 19-1 (.950) at home as the starting quarterback, including 15 consecutive victories.  He is tied with DANNY WHITE for the best winning percentage in a player's first 20 starts at home among quarterbacks who began their careers in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).  With 32 career wins as a starter, Ryan can tie Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (33) for the most victories by a quarterback in his first three seasons since at least the 1970 merger. 

New Orleans' DREW BREES leads the NFC in attempts (571), completions (391), yards (4,122) and touchdowns (31).  He has recorded at least 4,000 yards in each of his five years with the Saints and joined PEYTON MANNING as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with five consecutive 4,000-yard seasons.  Since joining New Orleans in 2006, Brees has thrown for 22,420 yards and 153 touchdowns.  He is the only quarterback in league annals to pass for at least 20,000 yards and 150 touchdowns in a player's first five seasons with a new team.

   

Two of the NFC's best will take center stage on Monday night at the Georgia Dome when the 12-2 Falcons host the 10-4 Saints.  Atlanta won the Week 3 meeting between the teams, a 27-24 overtime victory at New Orleans.  With a win on Monday night, the Falcons will clinch the NFC South and secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. 

"We are focused on this game because it's the next game," says Atlanta head coach MIKE SMITH.  "We know where we're at.  It's going to be a hard-fought football game.  The Saints are playing as well as any team in the league right now.  It's a big challenge.  We know what's at stake.  

"It is going to be imperative for us to get that dome rocking as we get ready for the defending Super Bowl champions coming in here on Monday night.  I encourage everybody to come on down to the dome and get ready to roll."

For the Saints, the defending Super Bowl champions can lock up a playoff berth with a win (or a Tampa Bay loss or tie on Sunday).  A victory also would keep New Orleans in the hunt for the division title. 

"There are two division games left and the key for us is to get our 11th win," says Saints head coach SEAN PAYTON.  "Right now, the first opportunity to get that win comes versus Atlanta on Monday in a primetime game.  We're excited about it.  We know it's a big challenge going there and the team we're playing."

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