Round one went to the Falcons in a decisive 34-20 victory back in week 10. Matt Ryan had one of his best games of the year with throwing nearly 250 yards with two touchdowns. Along with Michael Turner's near 100-yard performance with a touchdown, the Falcons offense was clicking on all cylinders.
However, the Falcons let Drew Brees get back into the game by conceding a 422-yard game along with Marques Colston's 140-yard day. That was without their multi-talented offensive weapon Reggie Bush.
The Atlanta defense held up during the contest. Now, the Saints are out for blood and a chance for payback.
The Louisiana Superdome is not a place any team wants to play in. Just ask the Green Bay Packers after they were destroyed 51-29 back in Week 12. Drew Brees went completely out of his mind by throwing for over 300 yards for four scores. Lance Moore was on the receiving end of Brees' ridiculous day with 115 yards receiving with two touchdowns.
Once again, that was a game WITHOUT Reggie Bush.
Fortunately for Atlanta, Grady Jackson's pending suspension has been deferred by the NFL's Players Association for the lack of merit. While Jackson has been noticeably quiet this year, he none-the-less demands attention on the line of scrimmage. This frees up room for emerging playmaker and linebackers Jonathan Babineaux and defensive lineman John Abraham.
Babineaux and Abraham have helped contribute towards a top-10 defense in points allowed for Atlanta and will attempt to box in Reggie Bush and Drew Brees.
It will be no small task, but the Falcons have proven they can cause havoc in the backfield and in the secondary against Brees. They managed to force him to throw three interceptions in the Nov. 9 contest.
The road has been laid out for the Falcons, it is filled with many pot holes and bumps. However, with quarterback Matt Ryan quickly becoming a staple in the NFL and with playmakers Michael "The Burner" Turner and Roddy White in the mix, Atlanta is turning the corner at a blistering pace.
Once again though the Falcons must adhere to the old cliche of "taking it one game at a time". With the huge showdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looming after this week, Atlanta can easily get distracted.
They have a shot at the playoffs, but they first have to take care of business in the Superdome this Sunday.