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By: David J Walker
Will Arthur Smith’s first game against our division rival be a win?
The Saints are a bit of a mess right now. Their future Hall of Fame QB has retired. Jameis Winston and Mormon Tim Tebow are set to compete at the critical position and their “star” wide receiver is going to miss some games. Yet, it’s a rivalry game, which means that none of this matters. Here’s how we see this one playing out.
Falcons 20 – Saints 21
This is not an endorsement of the QB situation in New Orleans. Or a criticism of Arthur Smith and his staff. It’s the acknowledgement that this series almost always goes off the rails and is rarely predictable. I don’t think Jameis Winston or Taysom “bounce pass” Hill are viable starting QBs, but that Saints defense can get after the QB. They’ve lost some pieces for sure, but these franchises always show up for one another. I do think they will split the series, but I’m going to lean towards the home team for this one. – David Walker
Falcons 27 – Saints 28
I’m in the same boat as DW, regretfully. I hope we’re entering a new golden era of ass kicking for the Falcons when it comes to the Saints, with Sean Payton and company cycling through mediocre quarterbacks for the next decade while the team inexplicably avoids making any sweeping changes. These games are still unpredictable, New Orleans has been beating up on the Falcons for so long and they’ll be at home here, so I can see them squeaking one out on the backs of an opportunistic defense and Alvin Kamara. Hope I’m wrong. – Dave Choate
Falcons 27 – Saints 20
You hear that? That is the sound of a New Orleans Saints franchise that is having themselves a puzzling offseason. By the time you read this, you’ll be fully aware that their top receiver is in a bad space with the head coach and the front office and trade rumors are starting to manufacture. The post-Drew Brees era in New Orleans will tell us a lot about the franchise. I for one believe they’ll miss Brees more than they actually think. Perfect for a Falcons team that is establishing a certain direction. Regardless of circumstances, this matchup always features a scrappy game between two bitter rivals. Thanks to comments thrown at him by Saints defenders upon being drafted, Kyle Pitts may introduce himself to the rivalry in a dominating fashion. – Eric Robinson
Falcons 31 – Saints 17
There’s a very good chance this prediction doesn’t happen, but the NFL season is always full of surprises. New Orleans has always been an offense-oriented team under Sean Payton and Drew Brees, despite having excellent defenses in recent years. But Brees is gone and the Saints have jettisoned a lot of key players due to salary cap issues this offseason (sound familiar?) On top of that, it seems like there is some turbulence with star receiver Michael Thomas. Atlanta hasn’t been led by a true offensive mind since Payton arrived in New Orleans, so it will be interesting to see how this particular chess match unfolds. Mostly, however, this comes down to the quarterbacks, and I like our guy more than either of theirs. – Will McFadden
Falcons 23 – Saints 13
I have been taking a cautious approach with the Falcons. I still have major concerns with the offensive line, the defense, and the install period for the new schemes. This is before Atlanta even deals with injuries, rough road stretches, COVID-19 exposure, and other issues sure to come up during 2021. With that said, what a disaster offseason for the Saints. Brees is gone. Jameis Winston looks to be the player he has been his entire career. Michael Thomas is going full Michael Thomas. Optimistically, the Saints may have a good defense and an OK run game. This team looks awful. Even if the Falcons are still working on tightening up new schemes and accounting for injury, I just don’t see what Atlanta should be worried about here. – Matt Chambers