As much as we would like to believe we're beyond the knee jerk reactions of Falcons seasons past, the Saints are the team's mortal foe. A loss to them, especially at 3-5, would absolutely make us furious.
That's not the primary reason the Falcons need this win so badly. The primary reason is that without it, the Saints are on the verge of climbing back into the wild card hunt and the Falcons are no longer the lead horse for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. I'm assuming the Bears win against the Texans, of course, but still.
Burying the Saints is key. No matter how much we hate them and have reveled in their lack of success thus far, the fact is that they are 3-5 in a year where the playoff picture is fairly muddled beyond the division leaders is not a good thing. Even with their horrendous defense, the offense is good enough to keep them in games and grab them wins. They may not catch the Falcons, but do you really want to play them in the playoffs?
The Falcons have many advantages in this one, including a stronger secondary and pass rush, the Saints' relative lack of a run game to take advantage of the Falcons' weak rush D and Ryan and his receivers against a mostly anemic New Orleans secondary. They still have to neutralize Brees, hope the D doesn't show up and overcome the Saints on the road. That will not be easy, but it is critical.
Let's start talking about this matchup.