Saints seek to snare sagging Falcons

The Canadian Press
Brett Martel

NEW ORLEANS–The latest chance for Saints’ fans to show Drew Brees their gratitude for the many memorable, triumphant moments he’s brought them comes on Thanksgiving night.
The Saints (9-1) are riding an NFL-high, nine-game winning streak as the rival Atlanta Falcons (4-6) land in New Orleans, so don’t expect a sleepy crowd in the Superdome no matter how well-fed.
Some 13 seasons after Brees embraced the challenge of resurrecting a downtrodden franchise in a disaster-ravaged city, his level of play–at age 39–appears as high as ever.
He is on pace to break his own single-season record completion rate of 72 percent. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is 25-1.
And the Saints, averaging 37.9 points per game, are threatening to score more points in a season than any team in NFL history.
With the luxury of a strong offensive line and running game, not to mention playing with a lot of leads, Brees has been able to throw selectively and efficiently.
“There’s a lot to be said for experience,” a grinning Brees said as he reprised an old expression about wisdom trumping youth and skill.
“When we step on the field, I feel like I can see it before it happens and it takes a lot of work to get to that point,” he noted.
“That doesn’t mean there’s not surprises . . . but I feel good playing the game right now.”
The Falcons aren’t feeling so good about their season so far. Their last-second loss to Dallas on Sunday dropped them five games behind the NFC South-leading Saints with six games left.
“We’ve got to get the bad taste out of our mouth,” said Atlanta receiver Julio Jones.
“It’s going to be a great game,” he added. “We’re going to have fun. People are going to fly around. People are going to get up.
“You don’t have to worry about people not being ready to play this game,” Jones stressed.
“We’re just going to be out there swinging.”
While the teams are spread apart in the standings, they played each other pretty close the previous time they met in Week 3 in Atlanta.
New Orleans needed a late TD to force overtime and then won in the extra period.
The Saints are nearly two touchdown favourites in the rematch, which would seem appropriate given New Orleans has outscored its past two opponents 99-21 combined.
But Brees’ experience against Atlanta tells him otherwise.
“These are always hard-fought games,” he stressed. “They’re games that typically come down to the last possession.”