A new Saints season is upon us and excitement is in the air.
"If the preseason and training camp was any indication, I feel like we've got some guys that are going to be pretty special and do some things," said Drew Brees. "I look forward to seeing how that all kind of comes together. "
It all starts Sunday, but it's not just any old season opener. It's a season opener against their rival - the Atlanta Falcons.
They did the same thing last year. And in that victory, a Kenny Vaccaro hit on Matt Ryan became the source of motivation for the Falcons offseason mantra of toughness (although Vaccaro says he was just trying to make a play).
"I didn't really think it was necessary to show that clip," Vaccaro said. "I feel like the guys didn't attack me because I don't think they thought I was really trying to hurt Matt Ryan. I think they thought it was a rookie mistake."
That Falcons offseason theme was revealed on the HBO show Hard Knocks. It's a program the Saints have browsed from time-to-time to see if there's any tips that can gain from their archrival.
"Typically, I would never have the time to watch, but in this case what you'll do is have people that have the time right now to maybe scan through," said Sean Payton. "I don't even know what channel it's on, but to scan through episodes to see what you might gain from it."
In the end despite their success against Atlanta, the Saints know this game will be a battle. Even when the falcons slipped to 4 and 12 last year, their two losses to the Saints were by a combined ten points.
"Here is what else speaks to the results. Some of these games have come down to the last possession. We charted it today for them," added Payton. "That is what they have to pay attention to. It is the details. You don't know when that short yardage play is going to come up, when the red zone stop is going to come up or when that special teams snap that is critical comes up."
Coach Payton wasn't lying about how close these games are. Sunday will be the 90th meeting between the Saints and Falcons. In their previous 89 meetings, according to ESPN, the average score was 22-21.