Every ten years are so, a rivalry draws in NFL fans unlike any other. Older fans will remember the battles between the Packers/ Bears, Cowboys/Redskins and Raiders/Chiefs that could thrill the mildest of spectators. When I was growing up, it was the likes of Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Troy Polamalu making the Steelers and Ravens one of the most fierce rivalries of all-time. All of those matchups still carry some weight today, but none have been as entertaining since 2010 as the Falcons and Saints.
Matt Ryan and Drew Brees
When it’s all said and done both of these quarterbacks will be presented with a gold jacket in Canton. Drew Brees has an argument for the best quarterback to ever sling it. Matt Ryan has turned the corner over the last three years, winning an MVP and establishing himself in the elite category of QBs. However, even when Ryan was just coming into the league, these two rarely failed to put on an offensive show.
Take a look at their numbers against each team:
Drew Brees (vs. Falcons): 26 games, 68.51 completion %, 49 touchdowns and 26 interceptions (97.0 passer rating)
Matt Ryan (vs. Saints): 20 games, 65.07 completion %, 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions (99.3 passer rating)
Expect fireworks on Thanksgiving.
True, old-fashioned fan hate between fans
Over the last ten years, the fans for these two teams have attributed to this rivalry as much as any player. Who can forget when a Saints fans put up a “28-3” billboard right outside of the Falcons brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, or when they unleashed a similar float in their annual Mardi Gras parade. The Falcons fans don’t back down, though. After Minnesota defeated the Saints last year on the Minnesota Miracle, it didn’t take long for similar shirts to be seen around town.
The war on social media is just as entertaining. These are two of the pettiest fan bases alive, and they love getting under each others skin.
The Falcons lack of a Super Bowl ring
The Falcons have been a fantastic regular season, had some playoff success and may have even put together the best half of football in Super Bowl history, but none of that changes the fact that they have yet to win a Super Bowl. The Saints, of course, had their one shining moment take place in 2010, and they will never let Atlanta forget about it.
There’s rarely a year where one of these teams isn’t in the playoffs. And even when one fails to make the postseason, they always have enough talent to make things tough on the other. Since Matt Ryan was drafted in 2008, 14 of the 21 meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less, and the Falcons and Saints have missed the playoffs in the same season just two times.
When the Falcons built their brand new billion dollar playhouse, they happen to use the same stadium sponsor as the Saints, Mercedes-Benz. Now, no matter where the game is played the luxury car brand is at center stage. That didn’t leave fans of either side very happy.
— Glen Pridgen (@glenpridgen) August 24, 2015
— SB Nation (@SBNation) August 24, 2015
Coming from someone who was born in Atlanta but attended LSU, I can tell you these two cities may be the two most prominent in the entire Southeast; however, they couldn’t be anymore different. Atlanta is like the New York of the South. Skyscrapers all over, beautiful views and tons of activities. As a result, their are millions of people around the area that have moved in from out of town and don’t showcase the same type of passion you might see in New Orleans.
Louisiana is a state unlike any other. If you live there, you’ve probably been there your whole life, or have family that has lived in the area. The roads, buildings and stadium could all use a renovation, but make know mistake about it, they wouldn’t trade their situation for the world. The black and gold runs deeper than their Louisiana accents and drinking is their second-best professional sport.
With so many memorable games between these two teams, there are moments that will remain in the memories of fans for their entire lives, and you don’t have to look very far to find them. How about this spin move from Drew Brees in the Saints 43-37 OT victory earlier this year?
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) September 23, 2018
Or how about this one from 2017, when Deion Jones intercepted Drew Brees to seal a three-point victory?
WHAT. A. PICK.
— Sporting News Canada (@sportingnewsca) December 8, 2017
What about Steve Gleason’s famous blocked punt? That occurred against the Falcons as well. Franchise defining moments take place each time these two teams take the field.