This week I caught up with another opposing team blogger: Jamie Kelly of Blogging Dirty. He was kind enough to share his time and thoughts on the upcoming game. We dug into the rivarly and meaningfulness of this game so I hope you enjoy. Thanks to Jamie for taking the time and please go visit Blogging Dirty and give him some love on his twitter page.
Saints Nation: Jamie, how far back does your fanhood go? I remember you guys stealing Bobby Hebert, Morten Andersen, Craig Heyward, Brett Maxie etc etc... from us. Still bitter. To this day Deion Sanders is still my most hated NFL player of all time for high stepping into the end zone against us. Can you share some of your historical perspective and memories with regard to this rivalry?
Blogging Dirty: Sadly my history doesn't go back that far as I am only 21! For me the rivalry has only become seriously relevant over the past five years. Growing up in the late 90's, and the early 21st century, the main rivals were the teams to beat. Mainly the Eagles, Packers and Vikings. However over the last five years as both teams have got better the Saints - Falcons rivalry has become one of the greatest in sports. My greatest memory from this rivalry was a few years ago in the superdome, when Brees through an interception off a flea flicker to Brent Grimes.
SN: I'm going to come out and say it: Saints - Falcons is THE MOST underrated rivalry in all of sports. Agree?
BD: Without a doubt. I have been clued into the national talk shows (PTI, Around The Horn etc..) and yet there is no mention of this huge game coming up. It used to annoy me, but I have come to realize that the Bucs, Falcons and Saints are only talked about when something is wrong. I think the success of both teams has meant that we are both expected to win now and only when we lose is when we get mentioned in the national media.
SN: Do you guys hate the Saints half as much as we hate you? Do you view Bucs/Panthers/Saints on the same level, or for you is their added importance playing the Saints?
BD: Simply answer Yes! The Saints are by far my most hated team. The other teams in the NFC South rivalries don't mean anywhere near as much. That is because I think both of our fan bases realize the winner of the NFC South will be either the Saints or the Falcons, which puts added meaning on all of our games.
SN: On to the game... looking at you guys this year, am I correct in saying the Falcons are not outstanding in any one area but just pretty good in all areas. They're not elite in any one area, but their success comes from being incredibly well balanced as a football team. Is that a fair assessment?
BD: That would be fair, however collectively as a unit we are getting better and better each week. From a Falcon perspective this game is coming up at just the right time. Whilst we may not be elite in any area, we can win in a lot of different ways thanks to our offseason additions and some of our high draft picks in recent years showing real improvement.
SN: It seems like Matt Ryan has regressed a bit this year and Michael Turner has had a resurgence. Do you think the Falcons come into this game committed to pounding Turner 25+ times?
BD: If Turner gets over 100 yards, the Falcons will most likely win, I think the Falcons realize this so the run game may be the priority for the Falcons. The whole load will not be on Michael Turner however, the development of rookie Jacquizz Rodgers, means he will also get quite a few carries, and be utilized in many different ways.
SN: Is this game a must win for either team, or too early for that?
I view this game as part of a two game series with this week 10 game and the week 16 matchup. A sweep for either team means they will win the division, I think we can agree on that. The element of must win comes into play more in week 16 for whoever loses this week's game.
SN: Roddy White has said some things in the press about New Orleans that have made him public enemy #1 in our area ever since. How do the hometown fans view White? Is there anyone on the Saints that's disliked as much in Atlanta?
BD: Roddy is great, in a team of good hard working characters (Dimitroff's type of player that he drafts), Roddy adds a bit of spark and character to the team. While he is still a highly productive wide receiver, Falcons fans will keep loving him. On the Saints, most Falcons fans really dislike Drew Brees, mainly because he has had so much success, for no real reason other than that. For me there is no QB I like to see get hit more than Drew Brees.
SN: What weakness is the Falcons' biggest? If you are on the Saints' coaching staff, how do you go about planning to beat the Falcons?
You have to limit your turnovers, Drew Brees has been a bit of a turnover machine recently and the Falcons D has been very effective at forcing turnovers. Secondly you need to protect Drew Brees, if you remember last year's game in the Georgia Dome, where the Falcons hit Brees a lot, but poor tackling from blitzers led him to escape and make a play. The Falcons are more effective now at bringing down the QB with blitzers, as a result the Saints must pass protect well on the edges.
SN: Do you agree the NFC South doesn't get anywhere near the respect it deserves as one of the toughest divisions in football?
BD: Absolutely. If you go just by Quarterbacks alone, top to bottom we have the best division of QB's in football. Records wise as well, we had three teams with 10 teams in the division last year. Why we don't get respect despite consistently providing two teams into the playoffs every year, really confuses me.
SN: Give me your prediction on the outcome of this game.
We are going to blitz a lot on Sunday, due to the success we had with it in our last encounter. This will have some success i think forcing a couple of sacks and a couple of turnovers, which will be enough to win the game. New Orleans corner situation will be difficult to overcome. I'm not certain but I believe Porter will be out if that is the case, I don't see the Saints being able to cover both Julio Jones and Roddy White. However given all that it will still be very close, i will say Falcons win 24-20.