Rivalry games are typically associated with college football—the Iron Bowl, Clean Old-Fashioned Hate, the Red River Rivalry—but there are a few series in the NFL that feel like college rivalries, most of which are divisional games. One of the prime examples of this is the Falcons-Saints rivalry.
Atlanta does not really have any rivals bigger than the New Orleans Saints. Fans call the week before the game “Hate Week” as if the livelihood of their respective city hangs in the balance of this game. Few rivalries in the NFL run as deep as this one and few have actually been as balanced as this one has been.
The two teams have played 94 total games, the first of which was played on November 26, 1967 and ended in a 27-24 Falcons loss. Since then, the Falcons have won 49 games and own a 49-45 series lead. This is one of the closest rivalries in the history of the NFL, but most of the games aren’t actually that close, by NFL standards. Over the 94 games, the average margin of victory is 11.5 points, and only seven of those games have gone to overtime.
However, since Drew Brees arrived in New Orleans the average margin of victory is only nine points, and the Saints have dominated the series with a 15-5 record against the Falcons.
This game marks a very historic day for the Saints as well as the city of New Orleans. Monday will be the 10 game anniversary of the first game in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina when Steve Gleason’s blocked punt helped the Saints beat the Falcons 23-3. That game symbolized the rebirth of New Orleans after a massive tragedy and is an iconic moment in Saints history, as well as NFL history.
All of us can agree that the Superdome is quite possibly the worst place for the Falcons to play, so any extra juice that Saints fans may have can only be bad news for the Falcons. Luckily, the game is decided on the field and the Falcons, are coming off an impressive win in week two.
A couple series notes:
· Falcons lead series 49-45, but the Saints have owned the last 10 years with a 15-5 record against Atlanta.
· Biggest Falcons victory came on September 16, 1973, when the Falcons beat the Saints 62-7
· The biggest Falcons loss in the series was a 38-0 shutout loss on November 1, 1987
· Dan Quinn has only coached two games against the Saints, but has lost both of them
· The Falcons have a winning record in the series away from Atlanta, surprisingly enough. They have won 24 out of the 47 games played outside of Atlanta
The Falcons-Saints is Monday night at 8:30 on ESPN. The Falcons currently sit as three point underdogs in New Orleans.
*All records and scores come from data provided by pro-football-reference.com