Falcons-Saints Preview: A City Rises to the Occasion

Micheal Robinson@nyyrobinsonSenior Analyst IIDecember 27, 2010

The city of Atlanta and its Falcons (12-2) anxiously await Monday Night's game against the Saints of New Orleans (10-4).

A city that just received a rare "white Christmas" look for more rare occurrences to happen on Monday Night at the Georgia Dome.

With a win, the Falcons will wrap up the NFC South and a home field or "Dome" field advantage throughout the entire playoffs.

The Falcons are (19-1) inside of the Georgia Dome with Matt Ryan as the starting quarterback since 1998. The only loss came when Denver beat Atlanta 20-24 in 2008.

The further show the importance of Matt Ryan in the Georgia Dome; not only was the loss to the Broncos just by four points, but the Falcons also dropped two games last season in a row at the Georgia Dome last year to the Eagles and Saints when Ryan was out with an injury.

The Falcons only have three division championships in their history and haven't won one since 2004.

This year, undefeated in the NFC South, and undefeated at home, the Falcons and Ryan can do some magical things in the playoffs this year at the Dome.  

To say this game isn't important is like saying that Santa doesn't need Rudolph to guide his sleigh.

After their unbelievable Super Bowl season last year, which included a sweep of the Falcons, Drew Brees and the Saints look to play the role of Scrooge or Grinch this holiday season and put off Atlanta's celebration for now.

The Falcons haven't had a clean sweep of the Saints since 2005, during Michael Vick's second-to-last season with Atlanta.

While the Atlanta Falcons posted a 11-5 record in 2008 and a 9-7 record in 2009 for back to back winning season for the first time in franchise history, they missed playoffs last year.  In 2008, they were a Wild Card team and lost to the Arizona Cardinals in the first round.

Sitting out the first round and waiting for a team to come to town in the second round could make for an unimaginable advantage for the Atlanta Falcons.

In various commercials supporting the 2010 Atlanta Falcons, actor Samuel L. Jackson talks about a Dome that "stands up" and a city that "lights up." 

I have attended two Falcons games this season, against the Cincinnati Bengals, and most recently, a prime time Nationally televised game against the Baltimore Ravens on the NFL Network.  It has been some of the loudest games I have attended in a while and the atmosphere is electric.  You can feel the intensity. 

With the Falcons riding high on their moniker of "rising up" and refusing to lose, it has worked.  To the dismay and laughter of some, the Falcons haven't received much respect through this incredible season.

As I speak with most Falcons fans, we aren't surprised one bit.  To gain the ultimate respect, the Falcons must do something that they couldn't do in previous season—win it all.  They were close in 1998, but close isn't going to cut the mustard.

However, this season feels different.  If I were a fan of another team in the NFC, I would NOT want my team to visit the Georgia Dome in January to play the Falcons.