Tonight’s NFL Thursday Night Football game on NFL Network offers consolation for the cellar dweller game that showed up in primetime three nights ago. The Atlanta Falcons and their league-best 10-1 record host the rival 5-6 New Orleans Saints, the only team that has solved Atlanta this season and escaped with a win. For the Falcons, tonight’s game is an opportunity to even the score with their divisional rivals. For the Saints, a win is a necessity to stay in the playoff hunt that they’re already looking up at from the outside.
The Falcons had completed half of their season with an unbeaten 8-0 record and talk of a perfect season was started to make its way into the media. Then they visited the Saints, a team that struggled early but has come on of late, and left with a 27-31 defeat. That unexpected loss squashed hopes of a perfect season for Atlanta, but at the same time, removed that monkey off their back.
Last week Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan got back on track after throwing five interceptions in a home win versus the Arizona Cardinals. He tossed one touchdown, one interception, and threw for 353 yards in a narrow 24-23 win against the tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tonight the porous Saints defense should lead to another big effort from Ryan.
The Saints were on a roll until they dropped a home game against the San Francisco 49ers last week 21-31. The loss snapped a three-game win streak and keeps the Saints out of the playoff picture, at least for now. A loss tonight would mean the Saints need to win out and get some help around the league to have a shot at a playoff berth. There is little to no margin of error left.
What hurt the 49ers most last week were two first half touchdowns off of Drew Brees interceptions. That shifted the momentum away from the Saints early on and they never regained it. Brees will need to be more focused against the Falcons, especially if he hopes to leave Atlanta with a win.
Tonight’s Thursday Night Football game between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons will be televised in HD on the NFL Network channel. If you have cable access, you can watch a free live streaming version of the game on your tablet or mobile phone here at the official NFL website. Kickoff for tonight’s NFC South rivalry commences at 8:20pm EST. My prediction is the Saints pull off the upset in primetime, especially considering how the Falcons have been squeaking by with narrow victories the past few weeks.