It was the kind of game the New Orleans Saints win with ease.
They were on the road, yes, but it was against an incredibly inept and winless St. Louis Rams team starting A.J. Feeley at quarterback. In those kinds of games, the Saints usually bring their significant firepower to bear and thump a bad team, moving along. Had they won, they would've been sitting on a 6-2 record and had significant traction in the division race.
Instead, the Saints got rocked by Steve Jackson, saw Drew Brees play his shakiest game of 2011 and dropped the game 31-21. It was a stunning loss for a good football team, but it has implications beyond that for the Falcons.
The upshot of the loss? The NFC South is officially wide open. The Falcons and Buccaneers are 4-3 on their bye weeks, within just a half game of first place. Raise your hand if you thought that would be the case as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
The Falcons are getting hot at the right time, having won two of their last three games and matching up next week against an inept Colts team. The Saints have to contend with the Buccaneers, Falcons, Giants and Lions over the next four weeks, which is far from the easiest stretch on their schedule. The Bucs have to play the Saints, Packers and Texans over a brutal three week stretch.
So not only is the division wide open, but the divisional games are going to really start to determine the course of the season for all three teams. The Falcons have arguably the easiest four week stretch, but they'll likely have to beat the Saints to rocket past them.
Regardless of what happens, we're on the verge of some very exciting football and what should be a tight division race the rest of the way. That's worth celebrating.
Oh, and many apologies for not having this up sooner, but I just got my power back on at about 3 a.m. Cursed October snow!