An old fashioned hate between two teams who were bottom dwellers in the NFC West continues today over 50 years later. And with the emergence of social media, it only intensifies the rivalry– not only for the players and coaches but the fans. While the play on the field can get contentious and chippy in this compelling New Orleans Saints–Atlanta Falcons rivalry, the banter on social media makes this rivalry more unique than any other in pro football. With the 100th meeting between the two teams happening this weekend, let’s take a look on what makes this rivalry special.
Says it all, really. pic.twitter.com/wncd3XQlNH
— Joe Ryan (@joesryan) November 5, 2019
— ATL Sports Scoop (@atlsportsscoop) November 5, 2019
New Orleans Saints-Atlanta Falcons Rivalry: Two Teams Marked by Heartbreaking Playoff Losses
If there is one thing both of these fan bases know, it is the fact that both teams have suffered excruciating losses, especially in the playoffs. More notably, the Saints in recent years have lost on controversial plays, compared to the Falcons, who have just flat out blown leads.
We know about the Minnesota Miracle, the “NOLA No-Call” and the 28-3 blown Super Bowl lead for the Falcons. But what about the fourth and goal where the ball went through Julio Jones‘ hands in the 2018 Divisional Playoff Game against the Philadelphia Eagles?
The #1 seed Eagles, who were a home underdog, upset the Falcons 15-10 in the NFC Divisional Round! The Eagles will host the NFC Championship Game next week against the Saints or Vikings. Will the Eagles soar to the SB? #HomeCooking 🦅🏈 pic.twitter.com/N2pREwBExQ
— Sean 4 Sports (@Sean4Sports) January 14, 2018
Or what about Vernon Davis and the San Francisco 49ers driving the length of the field and scoring the game-winning touchdown on the Saints in the 2012 NFC Divisional Playoff Game?
— NFL (@NFL) September 28, 2019
But guess what? Those last two games don’t get mentioned as much as the top three: the Minnesota Miracle, the “NOLA No-Call” and the 28-3 blown Super Bowl lead for the Falcons. Let a fan of either team make a negative comment about the other, and a meme from all three games will be dropped.
This game is high stakes even when both teams aren’t playoff-bound. The Falcons could go 2-14, but if the two wins are against the New Orleans Saints, nothing the Saints do that season can shut Falcons fans up about if unless it is a Super Bowl. The same could be said about Saints fans if the situation were flipped.
This is how much these games mean to the fans. It’s more than division titles and playoff births. These fans live for these games and live to throw it in the opposing fan bases’ face.
This rivalry has taken a new meaning since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. There were people who needed to be relocated from Louisiana to Georgia, which only heightened this rivalry even more. In recent years, however, Saints fans have seemingly outnumbered Falcons fans in both venues, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But no matter how many fans show up for either team, you can expect both fan bases well-represented on social media leading up to and during the game.
Nearing Ends of Eras
On the field, these could be some of the last meetings between two quarterbacks who have met the most in NFL history: Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. The two have met 21 times, with Brees holding the edge 13-8. Here are the stats in those games:
|Quarterback||Matt Ryan||Drew Brees|
But this could be one of the last times these two meet on the field. With Brees seemingly nearing the end of his career, this iconic match-up could see a new face next season.
Both teams are going in opposite directions at the moment. While the Saints have seen stability with Sean Payton since 2006, the Falcons have seen a revolving door at head coach. But no matter how dismal one team may look, expect this game to be within eight points — that’s because the 13 of the 21 meetings between Brees and Ryan have been decided by eight points or less.