National Football League
Preview
New Orleans at Atlanta
When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, January 1, 2017
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia

The Atlanta Falcons have the NFC South title under wraps, but they’re playing to earn a week off when they host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in the final regular-season game at the Georgia Dome. The division-champion Falcons can wrap up the No. 2 seed in the conference and a first-round bye, while the Saints are trying to avoid a third straight 7-9 season.



The Falcons know they’ll have at least one more home game before closing the curtain on the 25-year history of the Georgia Dome, but they aren’t sure when or whether or not there will be another beyond that. "Being a part of that is a cool feeling," Atlanta coach Dan Quinn told reporters. "We get this one here and then, past that, we don't know how many. We're sure hoping that it is going to be a loud one here Sunday." The Saints would enjoy spoiling the regular-season finale at the Georgia Dome and finishing at .500 for the first time since going 11-5 in 2013. New Orleans has won two of the last three meetings with Atlanta and is 15-6 against the club under coach Sean Payton, but the Falcons claimed a 45-32 victory at New Orleans in Week 3.

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Falcons -7. O/U: 56.5



ABOUT THE SAINTS (7-8): New Orleans remains one of the most dynamic offensive teams in the league, as Drew Brees leads the NFL in passing yards (4,858) and has thrown for 35 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. The offense has torched the last two opponents, with much of the damage being done by Brees and top target Brandin Cooks, who has 12 receptions for 284 yards and two touchdowns in the that span. The Saints’ downfall, as usual, has been a porous defense that has done a decent job against the run but been exposed in the secondary.

ABOUT THE FALCONS (10-5): Matt Ryan has put up MVP-like numbers of his own, passing for 4,613 yards with 34 touchdowns and just seven interceptions to post a league-best quarterback rating. Ryan is surrounded by weapons, with star receiver Julio Jones (76 receptions, 1,313 yards, 5 TDs) and a solid backfield duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman leading the way. Atlanta’s defense has given up its share of yardage but also has come up with big plays when needed, including a league-high 14 1/2 sacks from linebacker Vic Beasley.



EXTRA POINTS

1. New Orleans RB Mark Ingram (940) and Atlanta’s Freeman (983) are poised to go over 1,000 rushing yards.

2. Ryan has thrown touchdown passes to an NFL-record 13 different players this season.

3. Saints WR Michael Thomas leads NFL rookies in receptions (82), receiving yards (981) and touchdown catches (eight).



PREDICTION: Falcons 37, Saints 33


Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf OT Div Conf
New Orleans 7-8 W2 29.1 27.7 4-4 3-4 3-3 0-0 - - 6-5
Atlanta 10-5 W3 33.5 24.9 4-3 6-2 5-1 0-0 - - 8-3
Last Meeting
New Orleans Atlanta
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
9/26/16 ATL 45 NO 32 474 115 359 442 217 225
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
New Orleans D. Brees 66.7 376 3 1
Atlanta M. Ryan 66.7 240 2 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
New Orleans M. Ingram 15 77 5.1 0
Atlanta D. Freeman 14 152 10.9 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
New Orleans C. Fleener 7 109 15.6 1
Atlanta D. Freeman 5 55 11.0 1
Touchdowns Player TD
New Orleans C. Fleener 1
Atlanta T. Coleman 3
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
New Orleans D. Brees 70.9 4858 35 14
Atlanta M. Ryan 69.5 4613 34 7
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
New Orleans M. Ingram 185 940 5.1 5
Atlanta D. Freeman 215 983 4.6 10
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
New Orleans B. Cooks 75 1154 15.4 8
Atlanta J. Jones 76 1313 17.3 5
Touchdowns Player TD
New Orleans M. Ingram 9
Atlanta D. Freeman 12