About one thing there can be no debate: On Monday night, the Falcons - especially on Monday night, especially in New Orleans, and especially on this Monday night - should provide enough of an emotional lift to overcome all the negative statistics and factors that the Saints face. At least enough of them to provide the Saints with their first win of the season.
How else do the Saints rate being 3-point favorites?
The Falcons just defeated a Raider team in Oakland that beat the Saints the week before in New Orleans. Falcon quarterback Matt Ryan is the No. 1 quarterback in the NFL through two weeks in rating and yards per attempt, second in total yards and touchdowns. He'll be throwing against a Saints cornerback corps that's missing its top four players - none of the four remaining was a Saints draft choice.
His is a balanced offense between the run and the pass that saw nine receivers catching passes against Oakland. His tight end corps has 17 receptions. Coby Fleener has all the catches for the Saints tight ends - three.
Falcon kicker Matt Bryant is a 14-year veteran who's been money against the Saints in the past. Saint rookie Wil Lutz has missed nearly as many as he's made in the first two games.
But oftentimes this "magical match-up" makes apparent shortcomings disappear for the Saints. The Saints beat a 5 and 0 Falcon team here last season when the Saints were 1 and 4 and coming off of a horrific performance in Philadelphia.
The Saints swept the series last year, including a win in Atlanta on the last play of the last game of the season, coincidentally the last time the Saints won a game, pre-season or otherwise.
Under Sean Payton, the Saints are 14 and 4 against Atlanta, 8 and 2 at home. There's a reason that Monday Night Football has made the Falcons the Saints' most frequent Monday night opponent. Theirs is a rivalry of unbridled passion that provides unforgettable highlights and results for which pre-game statistics seldom are indicative of what awaits after kick-off.
There will be echoes in that building referenced from a decade ago, echoes the Saints must awaken on Monday night.
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