The Atlanta Falcons are officially eliminated from the postseason after the Minnesota Vikings clinched a playoff berth by dismantling the New York Giants 49-17 last Sunday Night. That victory by the Vikings has somewhat taken the hype out of the Saints vs. Falcons Week 17 matchup. The Saints would have loved to ruin the Falcons playoff hopes by defeating them this Sunday.
With playoff aspirations eliminated from this football game, the only factors that will be on the line in this rivalry will be the pride and future positions on the Saints roster. Last week Saints quarterback Drew Brees did not show any signs of having a torn plantar fascia injury when he tore apart the Jacksonville Jaguars defense.
In the contest against the Jaguars, Brees threw for 412 yards and three touchdown passes. He will try to have a repeat performance in the rematch against the Falcons, whom he had a solid performance in the previous contest. The Falcons will be motivated to finish the season with a 500 or better record for the first time since 2012.
Their victory against the Carolina Panthers last week added more fuel to that motivation. However, let’s not forget that the Saints were the team that handed the Falcons their first loss of the season when they defeated the “Dirty Birds” 31-21 in Week 6. The Falcons would go on to suffer a six-game losing streak that would eventually hinder their chances of making the playoffs this season.
The Falcons are motivated to finish strong this season, but Drew Brees and the Saints know this ball club all too well. The last time Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux went face to face with Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones, Jones was held only to 93 yards receiving and no touchdown receptions.
Breaux will need to have a similar performance against the talented receiver out of the University of Alabama if he wants to be successful this Sunday. If the Saints have a huge lead in the football game in the 1st half, they must not take their foot off the pedal like they did last week against the Jaguars.
The Falcons have the firepower that is capable of coming from behind to win close ball games. Sean Payton must not allow Matt Ryan to establish the “Ryan to Jones” connection in this matchup because if he does the Saints could be in for a long Sunday afternoon in the Georgia Dome.
Photo credits by bleacherreport.com