New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (Thanksgiving Night): 5 Bold Predictions

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After a quick 3-day turnaround, the New Orleans Saints will travel to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta, Georgia to face their long-time arch-rivals the Atlanta Falcons in a nationally-televised broadcast on Thanksgiving.

The contest will be aired by NBC, and will be shown locally in New Orleans on WDSU Channel 6. Kickoff is set for 7:20 p.m. Central Standard time.

With a victory, the (9-2) New Orleans can officially clinch their third straight NFC South Division Championship and a berth in the NFL Playoffs.

Meanwhile, the (3-8) Falcons will be playing for pride as they have already been eliminated from post-season contention. However, they still have an opportunity to earn “bragging rights” and sweep the season series between the two teams ⁠— since the Falcons upset the Black and Gold a few weeks ago at the Superdome in one of the Saints’ poorest overall team efforts this season (a 26-9 loss on November 10th).

This contest will be the 101st meeting between the two long-time arch-rivals, as Atlanta currently holds a (52-48) overall advantage over New Orleans in their previous 100 meetings, dating all the way back to the 1968 season (in the Saints’ second year).

With all of that in mind, here is Big Easy Magazine’s brief rundown of our 5 BOLD predictions for tomorrow night’s contest against those hated and despised “Dirty Birds”.

#5. Another Great Performance for Saints All-Pro WR Michael Thomas


This has become repetitive in many aspects, but as it’s been previously noted: Saints fourth-year All-Pro WR Michael Thomas is having a record-setting performance of epic proportions this season. He leads the NFL in catches (104) and receiving yards (1,242).

He easily appears to be headed for breaking the previous record for catches in a season set by Indianapolis Colts Hall of Fame WR Marvin Harrison, who set the current record (143) 17 seasons ago in 2002.

In this contest, Thomas will have another top-notch performance, adding 11 more receptions along with an additional 142 receiving yards (and a receiving TD) to his phenomenal 2019 campaign.

#4. Lattimore’s Return to the Line-Up Aids the Saints Secondary


Saints’ third-year All-pro cornerback Marshon Lattimore is expected to play in this contest tomorrow night after missing New Orleans’ past two games (divisional wins over Tampa Bay and Carolina), after he suffered a hamstring injury several weeks ago in a win at home over the Arizona Cardinals.

His expected return will provide a huge boost to the Saints’ defensive secondary, which has clearly under-performed in recent weeks with him not in the line-up, including some notable blown assignments in pass coverage in last week’s close win over the Panthers.

Tomorrow night Lattimore will renew his one-on-one rivalry with Falcons All-Pro WR Julio Jones; and his solid performance (2 pass break-ups, an interception, and 3 solo tackles) will give the Saints defense a notable boost that they clearly lacked in the 26-9 loss to the Falcons three weeks ago.

#3. Falcons RB Devonta Freeman Returns to the Line-Up for the Falcons But is “Shut Down” by the Saints Defensive Front 7

Excuses aside, one of the main reasons that the Falcons have struggled this year has been some notable injuries to several of their star performers, but none more so than their star RB Devonta Freeman. Freeman has been an integral part of the Falcons’ offense both as a primary RB and receiver out of the backfield, in a manner very similar to Saints superstar RB Alvin Kamara.

Freeman actually missed the previous game against the Saints three weeks ago, and in his absence the Falcons’ rushing attack hasn’t been very productive (even though they still managed to run the ball effectively right at the Saints defensive Front 7 in that game in his absence, nevertheless).

However, the New Orleans’ defensive unit will be markedly more focused at stopping the run in tomorrow night’s contest, as they go on to limit the former Florida State University star to 56 yards on 13 carries and 3 receptions for 36 yards out of the backfield.

#2. Saints QB Drew Brees Has a Bounce-Back Game as He “Slices and Dices” the Falcons Secondary

One of the main factors in the Saints’ loss to Atlanta in this season’s previous contest was the surprisingly poor game performance by Saints’ QB Drew Brees. Brees struggled mightily and had one of the more disappointing passing performances of his 19-year NFL career.

In addition, the veteran gunslinger and future Hall of Famer was sacked six times as New Orleans only ran the ball 11 times in that contest. This made the Saints’ offensive attack become one-dimensional and allowed a banged-up Falcons’ secondary to limit him to one of his worst statistical games ever (287 passing yards but zero TD passes and a QBR of 87.9.

In tomorrow night’s contest, Brees will have a notable bounce-back performance, “slicing and dicing” the Falcons secondary to the tune of 414 passing yards and four TDs, along a near-perfect QBR and completion percentage.

#1. The Saints Give Thanks on the Holiday By Earning a Little Payback

It goes without saying that the Saints were clearly embarrassed in that loss to the Dirty Birds 3 weeks ago, given the scrutiny and intensity of this long-time rivalry that fans from both sides take as seriously as life or death.

The Who Dat Nation is hoping for the Black and Gold to give Atlanta some payback for that embarrassment, and they don’t disappoint. The team is notably more focused on winning this game in front of a national television audience that will be watching to see if they really are Super Bowl contenders.

The game slowly evolves from a defensive struggle to a wild “shootout” in the 2nd half after the Falcons score a game-tying touchdown on a pass from Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan to WR Calvin Ridley that sends the game into overtime.

However, the Saints quickly strike back on the opening drive of the extra period and manage to hang on for their 10th victory of the 2019 Season when Brees hits a WIDE OPEN tight end Jared Cook for the game-winner — as New Orleans gives thanks on the holiday by earning a little “payback”, winning their 3rd consecutive NFC South Division Championship.


Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

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