Falcons vs. Saints 2012 game preview: New Orleans hosts unbeaten Atlanta

Chris Graythen

The Falcons will try to keep their unblemished record intact against their division rival Saints, who are trying to scrape back into the playoff picture.

The New Orleans Saints kept their postseason hopes alive with a Monday night win over the Philadelphia Eagles, but their road back to .500 won't get any easier as they host their unbeaten division rival Atlanta Falcons in Week 10 on Sunday afternoon.

New Orleans has won 10 of the last 12 meetings between the two teams, as both contests between the Saints and Falcons will take place within a four-week span this season.

Meet the New Orleans Saints

The Saints, winners of three out of their last four games after starting the season 0-4, made big defensive plays against the Eagles in Week 9, including a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Patrick Robinson. New Orleans, however, still ranks last defensively in total yards allowed per game, giving up 471.3 yards per contest.

Behind quarterback Drew Brees and an explosive passing attack, however, the Saints rank second in the league with 305.4 yards through the air per game. Brees, with 2,549 passing yards this season, ranks first in the NFL. His 22 touchdown tosses ranks second only behind Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Meet the Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta edged the Dallas Cowboys in a defensive-minded contest on Sunday night, 19-13, to reach a franchise-best start of 8-0. With one of the league's most dynamic receiving duos in Roddy White and Julio Jones and a leading MVP candidate in quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons have established themselves atop the NFC.

Ryan ranks third in the league in completion percentage, connecting on 68.9 percent of his throws and fourth in the NFL in touchdown passes, with 17. In allowing 17.9 points per game, the Falcons' defense is fifth in the league in points allowed.

Local Takes: Saints

Dave Cariello from Canal Street Chronicles says expectations should be tempered after the Saints' Monday night win over Philadelphia:

Unfortunately, I'm not expecting more of this kind of performance from the Saints this season. I genuinely think this was more about the Eagles being that bad than it was about the Saints playing well. Sorry to be Debbie Downer. Just calling it like I see it.

Local Takes: Falcons

Andrew Hirsh of The Falcoholic discusses the Saints-Falcons rivalry:

On average, Atlanta's rivalry with New Orleans is a bitter one. But after two incidents in the last few years-Drew Brees re-entering a game to break the passing yards record, and dancing on the Falcon logo on MNF-the Saints have given the Falcons more reasons than usual to dislike them. This could add some fuel to the fire next Sunday and several weeks down the road, when New Orleans visits the Georgia Dome on Thursday Night Football.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Canal Street Chronicles and The Falcoholic, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@CSCtweet

@TheFalcoholic

@LarryHolder - Larry Holder, Saints beat writer for @NOLAnews and The Times-Picayune.

@CBSFalcons - RapidReports on the Falcons from CBSSports.com's Mike Singer.

Prediction

From the Week 10 picks:

Upset time. This is the week for the Falcons to lose. Sorta like last week was the week. And the week before that. But this time, they're really going to lose. This is a do-or-die game for the Saints. They're nearing the point where they need to win out to secure a playoff bid. Drew Brees goes crazy and the Saints stun the Falcons.

The pick: 35-31, Saints.

Odds

The opening odds for the Saints-Falcons contest, according to OddsShark, opened even, but has currently moved slightly to favoring unbeaten Atlanta by one point. The over/under point total for the contest began the week at 53½-points and remains in the same position.

Next Week

The Saints go on the road to face the Oakland Raiders in the late afternoon of Week 11. Atlanta, meanwhile, returns to the Georgia Dome in Week 11 to host the Arizona Cardinals.

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