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Do Saints Penalties Put Pressure On The Falcons?

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Matt Chernoff from 680 The Fan brought up this conversation on air yesterday. Roger Goodell brought down the hammer on New Orleans for their "Bountygate" scandal, and now the Saints are looking at some very adverse conditions in 2012. Despite all the revelry and elation Falcons fans have shared at the expense of their hated rivals, it could make things worse during the regular season if Atlanta falters.

What exactly does that mean? Mike Smith now has a record of 2-6 against the Saints since he's taken over in Atlanta. They were winless last season against New Orleans, and if they fail to perform well this year, things won't look good.

Our divisional foes have taken a huge hit recently, and it will likely get worse with all the talk of individual player suspensions coming in the future. Jonathan Vilma was one of the main guys mentioned involving the bounties being made. There's no agreement among critics as to how long he'll be out, but a general consensus is that he'll receive a harsh penalty, and so will a few other players.

The Saints won't even have their head coach in 2012. With all this put up against them, the Falcons should be expected to have a good chance of beating NOLA this time around. Obviously Drew Brees and the gang aren't falling off the map completely, but our odds of winning increase with every suspension handed down.

I'm not saying we have to win both matchups this season. The Saints' players have already been talking about how this whole situation builds a fire underneath them, and how much sweeter it will be when they do just as well this year (their words, not mine). Steven Godfrey's article spoke about fear of that whole "us vs. the world" mentality. The Saints are going to be determined to succeed like it was any other season.

If the Falcons get swept, though, it will not look good on Smitty's resume. Fans will certainly be displeased we can't beat a team that's been bruised and beaten by the commissioner. Does that mean Atlanta has more pressure to win now?

What do you guys think? Should we expect an easier contest against the Saints in 2012, or are we anticipating the same amount of competition as always? I don't believe we're all of the sudden 10 point favorites, but I would be very disappointed if we get swept...again.