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Falcons Top Saints, Close to Clinching NFC South

After losing 11 of their last 14 games to the New Orleans, you could say the Falcons have had a hard time with their division rivals from the Bayou. Atlanta’s lone loss of 2012 came to the Saints after starting 8-0, but since then the Falcons are back on track to claim the league’s best record, as they buried their nemesis on Thursday Night 23-13, improving to 11-1 on the year in the process. Now, a Buccaneers loss this weekend would mean an NFC South title for the soaring Falcons.

Matt Ryan outdueled Drew Brees in their latest showdown

Drew Brees put up his usual 300+ yards last night, but inexplicably threw five interceptions, as the usually powerful Saints offense failed to find the end zone more than once on the night. The opportunistic Falcons took advantage and took care of the ball en route to a fulfilling and thrilling victory against a team that has had their number in recent years. They also snapped Brees’ incredible streak of 54 games with at least one touchdown.

“I didn’t realize that until we walked off the field,” Falcons coach Mike Said said via ESPN.com. “That’s an unbelievable streak. Drew Brees is an outstanding quarterback. The way the defense played tonight speaks volumes. The guys had gone out there and thrown touchdown after touchdown game after game after game.”

The loss puts the Saints’ backs up against the wall. At 5-7 and with only four regular games remaining, it would take New Orleans winning out and probably getting some help to make the postseason. The defending South champions, who were favorites among many to repeat, are currently on the outside looking in.

Denver may help the Falcons clinch the NFC South this week

Now the Saints have to hope that many other teams in the wild card hunt, like division rival Tampa Bay limp down the stretch. The young Bucs (6-5) will certainly have a tough road to the postseason, starting this week on the road against Denver. Currently on a six-game win steak, the Broncos may be the NFL’s hottest team. With Peyton Manning playing like a younger MVP-like version of himself, it will be tough sledding for Tampa at Mile High.

Of course, Atlanta is rooting for Denver too. A Buccaneer defeat would signify celebration time for the Falcons, who would become NFC South champions. Considering Denver is riding high and is 4-1 at home, it looks pretty likely to happen this week. Denver may not cover -7 points against a talented Bucs squad, but it should get the win this weekend.


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