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The history of the Falcons-Saints rivalry is defined by streaky success

Atlanta’s in a down period right now, but hopefully that won’t last much longer.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Falcons-Saints rivalry is one of the best in the NFL, featuring some of the ugliest and most epic games between two any longtime opponents in the sports. This was a rivalry forged in the fires of failure—the Falcons and Saints have been mostly awful in their respective histories—and has endured and intensified as the teams have improved.

It’s also a history defined by its long streaks. It’s rare that the Falcons or Saints trade victories, with long winning and losing runs marking the rivalry. Atlanta was the victor very often throughout the first 30 or so years, but the Saints have improved and have been largely dominating the past 15 years under Sean Payton, which is super annoying. Payton is 19-8 against Atlanta, and in every year before that the Falcons were 45-31.

Here are the longest winning streaks in Falcons - Saints history:

10 wins: Falcons, 1995-1999

9 wins: Falcons, 1969-1973

6 wins: Saints, 1986-1989

5 wins: Falcons, 1980-1982

This is all to say that the epochs of this rivalry have a habit of seeming endless, with the Saints certainly feeling that way in the late 1990s and the Falcons feeling that way now. The long run of dominance defined by Drew Brees and Sean Payton is probably drawing to a close with Brees set to retire and Payton either clamping the franchise’s fortunes to Taysom Hill or looking for new opportunities soon, and the Falcons themselves are looking to which will bring something new and different that may or may not favor our favorite team.

For now, it’d just be nice if the Falcons could stop the current two game New Orleans winning streak and prevent the Saints from getting any closer in the all-time series history, which Atlanta leads 53-50. The series of the history is a good reminder that even the longest streaks of futility for Atlanta don’t last forever, and hopefully the next game will be the start of something better and memorable.