The most underrated rivalry in professional sports will be renewed this weekend in Atlanta. The Falcons and the Saints hate each other more than the city of New Orleans hates the phrase “10 seconds left.”
In a series dating all the way back to Nov. 26, 1967, the NFL’s version of “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” (well, not too clean since that whole “Bounty-gate” thing happened) is set to hold its 99th game on Sunday. Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Steve Gleason, Steve Bartkowski, and Archie Manning. In 98 regular season games, all of them of made significant impacts that stand out amongst all the others.
While I have only been alive for 23 years of this rivalry, the amount of history and hatred that exists between these two franchises has always surprised me. It is the closest thing the NFL has to a college football rivalry, and it genuinely feels like the game is always a good one no matter how good or bad either team is.
The series between these two has been going on for 51 seasons. Out of the 102 seasons between either team, there have only been 28 winning seasons for the two franchises: 15 for the Falcons, 13 for the Saints.
This series is about a whole lot more than numbers but we’ll Digg into some stats just in Case they come up later on.
The Falcons lead the series 51-46 in 98 games—52-46 if we include postseason games, though. Atlanta owns the lone victory in a postseason game between the two franchises: a 27-20 victory in New Orleans on Dec. 28, 1991. While Atlanta leads the overall series, the picture favors New Orleans when it comes to recent games.
Since 2008, the Saints have beaten the Falcons 12 times, while Atlanta only holds eight wins in that time.
Atlanta’s recent outlook
In the last decade, the Saints and Falcons have played 20 games, 10 at home and 10 in New Orleans. Of those 10 home games, the Falcons are 5-5 and have struggled to consistently beat the Saints in Atlanta.
One of the key factors in the overall 8-12 record against New Orleans since Matt Ryan entered the league is the amount of pressure the Saints are able to get on the Atlanta quarterback. Since, 2008 the Falcons are 2-6 when they allow two sacks or more. New Orleans has had three (!!!) five-sack games against Ryan and the Falcons—all of them losses for Atlanta.
Despite this, Matt Ryan typically plays pretty well against the Saints: 64 percent completion rate, 32 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. All of that while being sacked just under two times per game.
- Atlanta’s biggest win in the series came on Sept. 16, 1973 when they beat the Saints 62-7 in New Orleans.
- The Falcons’ biggest loss was on Nov. 1, 1987 when the Saints shut them out while scoring 38 points. A whopping 38-0 loss at home.
- Dan Quinn lost his first two matchups against the Saints, but has since gone 3-1, bringing his overall record agains New Orleans to 3-3.