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What to know about the Falcons - Saints matchup on Thanksgiving

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The Falcons are likely to get destroyed for the second straight effort against the Saints. Can they beat the odds again?

NFL: NOV 10 Falcons at Saints Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I was dreading the first game in this little series, and it turned out to be the most joyous game imaginable. I’m dreading this one, too, and hoping my expectations will be upended yet again.

Let’s set the stakes here: There are none for the Falcons besides pride and not making us unhappy on a national holiday. That pride is a big deal, though, for a team that was building a little something with wins over the Saints and Panthers, only to fall embarrassingly flat against the Buccaneers. With the Saints coming to town and promising they won’t lose this time, Atlanta has a chance to play spoiler again and put one more point of pride forward for the year. That’s it, but it certainly matters to those of us who have to watch the game.

It’s going to be tough sledding. The Falcons have no home field advantage at this point, with dead crowds and Dan Quinn “enjoying” a just-north-of-.500 record at home in Atlanta. They’re going to be facing a Saints team that is good enough to avoid two straight flat efforts against the same team, and they will likely be without Austin Hooper again, not to mention the ominous possibility of a limited or missing Julio Jones.

We’ll hope for the best, but here’s what you need to know.

2019 Ranks & Records

Let’s get into the side-by-side rankings! They do not look any better than they did last time.

Falcons - Saints Side-by-Side

Team Record Points For Yardage For Passing Yards Rushing Yards Points Against Yardage Against Passing Yards Against Rushing Yardage Against Turnovers Created Turnovers Allowed
Team Record Points For Yardage For Passing Yards Rushing Yards Points Against Yardage Against Passing Yards Against Rushing Yardage Against Turnovers Created Turnovers Allowed
Falcons 3-8 19 10 3 31 28 26 27 18 29 21
Saints 9-2 9 12 9 17 13 10 15 4 13 1

The Saints remain one of the more balanced football teams in the NFL. They’re solid against the pass and great stopping the run, and on the other side of the ball they’re excellent through the air and quite good on the ground as well. That’s what made the Falcon win over the Saints out of the bye so compelling, because they had to shut down the team so thoroughly to do it.

Can they do it again? I’m once again predicting a win out of the principle of the thing—I have perhaps stupidly picked against the Saints all year—but it seems like a stretch. Atlanta is coming off a deflating effort against the Bucs where Tampa Bay simply watched their defense closely and then picked it apart, and the offense wasn’t even great against the Saints and Panthers. Atlanta’s unlikely to catch the Saints taking them lightly twice, unfortunately.

Reasons for optimism? The Falcons did it once so they can do it again, Marshon Lattimore may be limited and the offensive line is a bit dinged up, and the Falcons secondary is legitimately coming around and get to face a Saints receiving group that is basically quick outs to Michael Thomas. That’s not an inspiring list, but it’s gonna have to do.

What should you know about this game?

It’s likely to be close this time, but it’s also likely to be a lot harder to watch than the last one. The Falcons are banged up and coming off a shaky effort that makes it seem like the magic may be gone, and they won’t surprise New Orleans.

What you should know, then, is that there’s a very real chance the Falcons get the brakes beaten off of them in this one. We’ll hope for the best, but I wouldn’t bring a ton of hope into this one.

One other small note: This could be the effort that gets Dan Quinn fired. At this point it wouldn’t make much of a difference if Arthur Blank did it post-Thanksgiving or at the end of the year, but an embarrassing effort in front of the home crowd on Thanksgiving could be the final straw even for the notoriously patient owner. Of course we’ve said that before and you should thus take it with a grain of salt, but at 3-9 with a guaranteed losing season and games against the Panthers, Buccaneers, and 49ers still looming, it’s within the realm of possibility.