Saints Expect to Return From Bye Week Strong Against Hated Rivals
The New Orleans Saints return to action from a bye week this Sunday afternoon against their most bitter rival, the Atlanta Falcons. New Orleans comes into the game with a 7-1 record and riding a six-game winning streak. Five wins during the streak came despite quarterback Drew Brees being sidelined with an injured thumb and backup Teddy Bridgewater at the helm.
The Saints were considered perhaps the league’s deepest and most balanced team coming into the 2019 season, expectations that they have more than lived up to over the first half of the year. The Saints have continued to be productive offensively despite Brees out of the lineup and several other starters missing time with injury. The defense is a top-ranked unit, one that has been playing shut down football since week four and capable of controlling a game. The Saints also possess the NFL’s best kicker/punter combination, solid kick coverage units, and an explosive returner in Deonte Harris.
New Orleans begins the second half of their season with a two game lead in the NFC South division and hosting a Falcons team that is reeling. Atlanta, who also had a bye last week, comes in with a 1-7 record and losers of their last six. The Saints should also have back Alvin Kamara and tight end Jared Cook back in the lineup, each of whom have missed the last two games with ankle injuries. History tells us that New Orleans, who has won their last three games against the Falcons, will kick off the back half of their schedule with continued momentum.
The Saints own a 8-2 record following bye weeks over the last ten years and have won their last six home games when returning from the bye. Head Coach Sean Payton and his staff have done a marvelous job game planning and preparing his teams as the season goes down the stretch, paced by their future Hall of Fame quarterback. Drew Brees has a 17-7 home record in November since 2009, a .708 winning percentage that includes a 3-0 home mark against Atlanta during the month.
New Orleans has used the month of November to position themselves perfectly for the playoffs over the last two years, owning a 7-2 overall record and going 5-0 during that time in the Superdome. The Saints play 4 divisional opponents over the next month of action this year, starting with this weekend against their hated rival. They have been traditionally strong in November and also when coming off a bye.
New Orleans ended the first half of the season as one of the NFL’s strongest teams and have a healthy lineup on offense for the first time since week one. Another strong performance over the next month will give the Saints a stranglehold on the NFC South. And nothing would give their fanbase more pleasure than to start the stretch with another victory over the hated Atlanta Falcons.