The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons have developed a terrific rivalry throughout the years, even though it’s not a popular rivalry with the national media. New Orleans and Atlanta were the first two cities in the “Deep South” to get an NFL franchise, and a natural rivalry developed. Both teams struggled in their early years in the NFL, but the current versions of the Saints and Falcons are routinely among the best teams in the league.
The Saints and Falcons both play in domed stadiums, and they feature electric offenses that can put up points in a hurry. This rivalry became more well-known in 2006 when the Falcons and Saints met in the Superdome for the first home game after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Many sports analysts had the Saints and Falcons in their preseason playoff predictions for 2018, and odds are it will be much of the same in 2019.
History of Saints vs. Falcons Rivalry
The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons have met a total of 100 times since the first meeting on November 20, 1967. New Orleans was a 27-24 winner in that first meeting, but then Atlanta rattled off nine straight wins against their new rival. Atlanta leads the all-time series by a count of 52-48, and they have outscored the Saints by a total of 101 points in regular season games.
The Falcons have also won the only playoff meeting between the two teams—a 27-20 victory during the 1991 NFL Playoffs. Both the Saints and Falcons were placed in the NFC West division in 1970 but moved to the NFC South in 2002. Since the creation of the NFC South, the Falcons and Saints have won a combined nine division titles and have been the class of the division.
The New Orleans Saints began play during the 1967 NFL season, and things didn’t go very well for them. New Orleans managed to post just two winning seasons in their first 20 years as a franchise, and they qualified for the NFL Playoffs for the first time in 1987 with a 12-win season. The Saints have made it to the playoffs just 12 times in their history, with seven of those appearances coming since the 2006 season. The Saints are 73 games under the .500 mark in franchise history and hold a 9-11 record in postseason games. New Orleans used to be the laughing stock of the NFL, but things have started to change in the 21st century.
The Falcons came into the NFL one season before the Saints, beginning play during the 1966 season. Atlanta also got off to a slow start in the league, winning a combined 12 games in their first four seasons. The Falcons qualified for the playoffs for the first time in 1978 and were able to notch the first playoff victory in franchise history. Atlanta has been a playoff team eight different times since 2002, and they lost a heartbreaking game in the 2016 Super Bowl to the New England Patriots. The Falcons have posted a 358-452-6 record since coming into the league in 1966 and have gone 10-14 in the NFL Playoffs.
Head to Head Analysis of Saints vs. Falcons
Both the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons have been near the top of the NFC in the last few seasons, and the head to head matchups have been extremely important. Looking all the way back at every game played in this rivalry isn’t really helpful when trying to make predictions moving forward, so let’s focus on the last 20 games. New Orleans and Atlanta have met 20 times since November 2009, and the Saints have gotten the better of the Falcons since that time. The Saints have won 13 of the 20 games against the Falcons, and they have dominated both at home and on the road.
The Saints posted a 7-3 record against the Falcons in New Orleans and went 6-4 in games played in Atlanta. New Orleans has also won three straight games against their divisional rivals, and they look like the pick going forward. Odds are that the Falcons will eventually turn things around, but the Saints currently have their number.
Looking at the winner of the last 20 games is obviously important, but there are several other things to consider when making picks in the upcoming season. The first thing to consider are the results in the last 20 games in relation to the “total” number of combined points between the Saints and Falcons. Any football fan knows that the Saints and Falcons have terrific quarterbacks and high-scoring offenses, but they might be surprised to see that the two teams have combined to go “over” the total points line in 8 of the last 20 games.
New Orleans and Atlanta have combined to go “under” the points total in 11 games, and they also had one push when the line was set at 52.0 total points. We already established that the Saints were the correct moneyline pick in 13 of the last 20 games, but let’s take a look at the results in regards to point spread betting. The Saints have been the betting favorite in 11 of the past 20 games, while the Falcons have been the favorite in the other nine. Both teams have struggled to cover the spread as the favorite. New Orleans went just 4-7 against the spread as the favorite, while Atlanta was an even worse 2-7 against the spread as the favorite. If the last 20 games tell us anything about this rivalry moving forward, it’s that betting on the “under” and the underdog are the right picks.
A Glance at Postseason Success in Saints vs. Falcons Rivalry
The Falcons might have a slight edge in the all-time series, but the Saints have had more postseason success than their rivals. New Orleans won the Super Bowl in 2009, while the Falcons are still looking for their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.
Atlanta did win a pair of NFC championships in 1998 and 2016, but they were defeated in the Super Bowl at the end of each season. New Orleans has won seven division championships in franchise history, while the Falcons have won just six. Odds are that both teams will continue to make postseason appearances in future seasons, and these numbers will change as the rivalry continues to grow.
The Saints had a strong showing in the 2018 season, and many thought they might make it all the way to the Super Bowl. Look for them to continue that momentum moving forward. Atlanta has maintained their flashy offense, and they’ve got several players with enormous potential in future seasons. Keep an eye out for this rivalry as it continues to grow. With both teams playing at a high level, we can expect some phenomenal football!