The Atlanta Falcons secured the number two seed in the NFC with a 38-32 win over the New Orleans Saints.
Let’s revisit the top three matchups from the season finale.
Matt Ryan versus the Saints defense
Ryan bolstered his MVP case after he was surgical in dissecting the Saints’ woeful defense. The Falcons found the end zone on each of their first five possessions, with Ryan accounting for four of those touchdowns through the air — all in the first half. He finished the game with 331 yards on 27 of 36 passing, with the four touchdowns and no turnovers. Is there any doubt at this point?
Michael Thomas versus Robert Alford/Jalen Collins
The Saints admittedly have a nice receiver in rookie Michael Thomas, who finished his first year in the league with 92 receptions for 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns. Against the Falcons, he caught 10 passes for 156 yards and a score. With how many times Thomas was targeted by Drew Brees (14), I don’t think it’s particularly an indictment on the play of Atlanta’s cornerback duo. Collins did notch another interception, giving him one in two consecutive games.
Mark Ingram versus the Falcons run defense
Ingram crossed the 1,000-mark for the first time in his career, and it was the first time the Saints had a rusher reach that threshold since Deuce McAllister in 2006. Ingram rushed 20 times for 103 yards — his first time doing so since Week 12. He also added six receptions for 29 yards.