Surging Saints set for 100th game against rival Falcons on Thanksgiving Day
NEW ORLEANS - It's one of the best rivalries in the National Football League, and the most heated in the NFC South division. The New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons, two teams with bad blood between them, are gearing up for their 100th showdown this Thursday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints and Falcons are the NFL's first franchises in what is considered the "deep south". It's the oldest rivalry in the south dating back to 1967, where the Saints won the first game of the series, 27 to 24. Since then, the series has been mostly even with Atlanta having a slight edge, 52-47 all time.
The rivalry didn't receive much national attention in the two team's first few decades in existence, mainly due to poor performances by both franchises. Although popularity grew, particularly on September 25, 2006, when the teams faced each other in the first official game in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina. A blocked punt by Saints legend Steve Gleason served as a turning point for New Orleans, and the Saints went on to win 23-3.
Throughout the team's history, the teams have combined for three Super Bowl appearances: the Falcons with two and the Saints with only one. However, the Saints won the championship in their lone appearance, while the Falcons lost both times.
This season, the franchises are going in different directions. While the Saints are currently on a nine-game winning streak, first place in the NFC South, and looking like the best team in football, the Falcons are in somewhat of a slump, sitting at 4-6 on the season and placing third in the division.
Despite the success the Saints are having, winning on Thursday night will be no easy task. The games between the two are always close considering both franchises know each other so well and generally dislike each other. Earlier this year, the Saints edged the Falcons in an overtime thriller, 43-37. Regardless of how you look at it, the 100th meeting for these franchises is primed to put on quite the show of explosive plays and game-changing moments.
The game starts 7:20 CST on NBC.
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