We continue our “Falcons 50” countdown with a look at the biggest games of the 2016 for the Atlanta Falcons. You can follow along with the full countdown here.
Falcons five biggest games of 2016 #1: New Orleans Saints, Week 17
It doesn’t get any bigger than this. The Atlanta Falcons’ final game at the Georgia Dome, assuming they don’t host a playoff game, will be against the New Orleans Saints. What a fitting way to send off the Dome ahead of the move to Mercedes-Benz Stadium next season.
The schedule maker knows how big of a game this, and for the second year in a row the Falcons will host the Saints in the season finale.
It’s also possible this game could have playoff implications. Even if the Carolina Panthers go onto win the division once again, the Falcons will be aiming to earn a wild-card berth and might require victory over New Orleans to reach the postseason for the first time since 2012. Who knows?
What we do know is the game will have plenty of emotion from both sides. Neither set of players need any extra motivation for this one, particularly given it’s the final act inside the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won’t want the history books to show their final game in the stadium to be a loss to the Saints. New Orleans want the exact opposite.
Last five meetings with Saints
January 3, 2016: Saints 20, Falcons 17
October 15, 2015: Saints 31, Falcons 21
December 21, 2014: Falcons 30, Saints 14
September 7, 2014: Falcons 37, Saints 34
November 21, 2013: Saints 17, Falcons 13
Recent meetings have been somewhat of a mixed bag for the Falcons. They completed a season sweep of New Orleans in 2014 but suffered the reverse in 2015. Dan Quinn’s team will need more consistency over their rivals to become a serious playoff contender.
That’s of course incredibly difficult when up against Drew Brees. The Saints have a number of problems, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, but Brees is the ultimate equalizer and has had plenty of success against Atlanta.
The Falcons defense will need to be well prepared to slow him down, and that starts by ramping up the pressure. Can the pass rush get going in this game?
Atlanta needs that to be the case to have a chance of giving the Georgia Dome the perfect sendoff.