After two weeks, the New Orleans Saints have suffered two razor-thin losses and find themselves alone in the NFC South cellar. Now comes their biggest game of the season so far, and it's a big game for a number of reasons. First, because it's their first division game of the season. It's a primetime game, where the Saints have generally risen their game at home. A win could keep them in the conversation, while a loss could be devastating to their season. It's a game against their most bitter rival, the Atlanta Falcons. And lastly, the game is a celebration of the 10th anniversary of one of the most beloved games in New Orleans Saints history.
That's a lot of reasons for the Saints to come out and throttle Atlanta in this game. Whether its a blowout win or a last-minute squeaker, the key is that the Saints win in the end. Emotions will be running high in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as we commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the Saints' 2006 "homecoming" post-Hurricane Katrina. It was one of the most memorable moments in Saints history, and hopefully the Saints will provide more memories in this game while honoring the past.
Last week I went 9-7
I told you so: Pittsburgh over Cincinnati!
What do I know: Jacksonville over San Diego?
Thursday, September 22nd - Thursday Night Football
Houston's defense will be up to the task of stopping whoever New England finds to play quarterback. It'll be a much different story, should these teams meet in the playoffs.
Sunday, September 25th - Early Games
The aggressive Arizona defense found themselves once again last week, and their dominance will continue this week in Buffalo.
The Tennessee rushing attack will grind down the pathetic Oakland defense at home.
After a week of scrutiny and ridicule, Kirk Cousins will look great for one week and torch the Giants defense in New York.
Have mercy on anyone subject to watch these teams. Maybe Ryan Tannehill will not be garbage against the Cleveland defense.
Baltimore is quietly having a great start to their season, behind their resurgent defense. They'll stay unbeaten with a win in Jacksonville.
Something's not quite right in Green Bay, and the finger is hovering over the panic button pretty early. Based strangely enough on their solid defense, the Pack will squeak out a close victory at home.
Broncos(2-0) at Bengals(1-1) - Game of the Week
This should be a great game, featuring two of the AFC's best defenses in recent years. Cindy's inability to find their rushing game will hurt them against Denver's stout defense, but the Bengals will get just enough to secure a big home victory over the defending Super Bowl champs.
It will be up to Minnesota's tough defense to prop up the offense for the rest of the season, and it'll be too much to ask of them on the road against Carolina. The Panthers should have at least twice as many rushing yards as the Vikings by the time this game is over.
Sunday, September 25th - Late Games
Rams(1-1) at Buccaneers(1-1)
Tampa should rebound from their trouncing in the desert last week against a stout Los Angeles defense. Expect a low scoring affair in this one.
In the Harbaugh era, this was one of the NFL's most heated rivalries, but recently it's been a one-sided affair. This will continue as the top-ranked Seattle defense will handle San Francisco at home.
This should be a close one in Kansas City, but the Jets' rushing game will give them a slight advantage on the road against the Chiefs.
The San Diego offense will prove too tough for Indianapolis to overcome, even with home field advantage.
Philadelphia has been the surprise of the league early on, but they haven't faced an opponent like Pittsburgh yet. The Steelers will hand Philly their first loss of the season.
Sunday Night Football
Chicago has been bad so far, like aggressively bad. They'll stay winless with a loss here in Dallas on Sunday Night.
Monday, September 26th - Monday Night Football
Falcons(1-1) at Saints(0-2)
It will be pure emotion in the Superdome for this one. At times somber in remembrance, but mostly jubilant in celebration of the Homecoming/Rebirth game of 2006, and with Steve Gleason in attendance to commemorate the occasion, it should be absolutely electric. These are the types of circumstances that tend to bring out the absolute best in the Saints.
All the talk of these two offenses have centered around the receivers on both sides, but the two players who will be the offensive keys to this game are Atlanta's Devonta Freeman and New Orleans' Coby Fleener. Freeman proved to be problematic for the Saints a season ago and he's already looking great over the first two weeks of this season. Atlanta will certainly look to get the ball in his hands in a variety of ways. The Saints will need to be as good against the run this Monday Night as they were last week against New York.
Two games in and Fleener seems to have free agent bust written on him already, but this game presents a huge opportunity for him to show just why the Saints had faith in him this offseason. Fleener can take advantage of this Falcons defense and he will need to do so to take the weight of early expectations off his back. A big showing here, in this moment, will go a very long way.
Last season's Saints/Falcons game in the Superdome had all the drama reminiscent of the iconic '06 game, blocked punt and all, even Steve Gleason was there to watch it go down. Maybe that game had the drama a year early, but this one will have the fireworks. Expect the Saints to ride a wave of emotion that will wash over the Falcons this Monday Night. Saints win 34-17.
That's how I see it, tell us how you see Week 3 playing out. Leave your comments and insight below!