Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/24/11

The New Orleans Saints host the Atlanta Falcons at the Superdome on Monday night with the Division Championship on the line. Here are three things to watch!


Drew Brees Pushes Towards the Passing Record and a New Contract

With two games remaining Brees needs 304 passing yards to eclipse Dan Marino and the single season Passing Record. The only question is if he will get the record against the Falcons, or if he will have to wait until week 17 against the Panthers. Either way he will get the record at the Superdome in front of the home fans, and that stadium will absolutely erupt when that happens. Of course Brady is only 187 yards behind Brees and Bilicheck and the rest of the evil empire would love nothing more than to have Brees break the record in week 16 and have Brady take it away in week 17!

It’s common knowledge that Brees and the Saints Brass are far apart on a contract, and the Passing Record isn’t going to help the Saints cause. They need to sign Brees to a fair market deal, and do it now. Even if the Saints completely melt down and lose in their first playoff game, Brees has shown that he deserves a top three QB contract. Brees is the heart and soul of the Saints team, the Saints have no leverage in the game of contract chicken.


The Falcons Have Everything to Play For

The Atlanta Falcons path in the playoffs is currently in their own hands. One win punches their ticket to the playoffs, but there is more than a berth at stake. There is little doubt that the Packers will be the one seed and, more importantly that the winner of the NFC East will be the four. If the Falcons get the five seed as a wildcard team, they will face the winner of the NFC East in the first round which at this point looks like a much easier matchup than facing New Orleans or San Francisco. That would lead to a second round match up with the Green Bay Packers unless the other wild card team is also successful in the first week, and don’t think that the Falcons haven’t already taken a long look at the rushing attack that Kansas City used to knock the Pack out of the ranks of the undefeated. Long story short, the Falcons have a lot of inspiration to win both of their remaining games.


Balancing Staying Healthy with Playoff Position

Both Atlanta and New Orleans are still playing for playoff position, and in reality even for the division title, but being healthy going into the playoffs can be just as important as playoff seed. The Saints have managed to overcome RB injuries to Ingram due to the stable of Running Backs on the roster, especially with Darren Sproles taking the pass catching back role to a new level, but the key to the health of the team is keeping Brees upright and untouched as they did last week against the Vikings.

For the Falcons, the passing game is finally hitting their stride, and it may be more important for the Falcons to keep giving it their all on offense. Even if they do sew up the fifth seed prior to their week 17 match up with Tampa Bay the Falcons offense would benefit from ending the season with the momentum provided from a win against the Buccaneers.  

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