NFL Monday Night Preview: Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints

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Who can forget Mike Smith’s controversial fourth-down call to go for it from his own 29-yard line when the teams last met on November 13th? Trailing by 10 with 3:35 remaining, Atlanta staged a furious rally to tie the game on the final play of regulation. Then, in overtime, Atlanta failed attempted to convert a 4th & inches on their own 29-yard line. The play was stuffed and New Orleans kicked the game winning field goal.

If Drew Brees wasn’t the quarterback for the Saints, Smith in all likelihood would have punted the ball. With 4,780 yards passing and two games left to go, Brees is on pace to break Dan Marino’s single season passing yardage mark of 5,084 yards needing only 304-yards, an average of 154-yards per game. Brees finished with 5,069 in 2008, and would be the only quarterback to have two 5,000 yard seasons. Brees would also have two of the top three or four (* see Tom Brady below) passing seasons in NFL history.

While pundits have already granted Aaron Rodgers the NFL MVP, if Brees breaks Marino’s record (finishing ahead of Brady) and also beats Rodgers and the Packers in the playoffs, a strong argument can be made that Brees should get the award.

The Falcons got off to a slow start this year but shouldn’t be taken lightly. Let’s not forget that they were one of this year’s preseason favorites to win the Super Bowl. In fact, NFL Scout Jayson Braddock is going for a three-peat as he correctly predicted the last two Super Bowl winners during the preseason and picked the Falcons this preseason to win it all.

Matt Ryan has played his finest football of the year in December, routinely hooking up with Julio Jones on deep slants with Jones being able to take some of them all the way to the house. The Saints blitz more than any other team in the league and Jones along with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, should have plenty of opportunities to make hot route adjustments when the Saints send members of their secondary on the pass rush.

The Saints are trying to close out both a division title and a first-round playoff bye in this one. The Falcons still have a mathematical chance to win the division with a win this week and next, and some help from Cam Newton and the dangerous Carolina Panthers in Week 17.

This is the best Monday Night Matchup of the year.

* With one game left Tom Brady has 4,897 yards and needs just 187 yards to pass Marino’s mark. The New England Patriots have clinched a first round bye. The Pats are playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs, but home field in the postseason hasn’t meant much to the Pats lately as they were bounced at home in the playoffs each of the past two seasons by the Ravens and Jets. One has to wonder how much Brady will play against the Buffalo Bills in Week 17, particularly if the Patriots are winning big in the second half. Remember the senseless Wes Welker injury when there was no need to play him.

The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.