Saints clinch playoff berth over arch rival Falcons, 23-13

Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints


The New Orleans Saints defeat the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon in Week 16, 23-13. Here are all the highlights, the game recap and the final score.

It wasn’t even close, as the New Orleans Saints were able to avenge their Week 14 primetime loss to the arch rival Atlanta Falcons two weeks later. New Orleans crushes Atlanta 23-13 on Sunday afternoon to  clinch its first playoff berth since the 2013 NFL season. The Saints improve to 11-4, while the Falcons fall to 9-6.

Like the last game in the rivalry series, the penalties were killer for the losing team. Atlanta seemed to draw laundry every other snap and the Saints were able to take advantage of several Falcons’ miscues.

While both teams played well defensively, it was a major struggle for the Falcons offense in this one. Atlanta was unable to punch it in inside the Saints’ five-yard line on two occasions. So that in a nutshell was your ball game. The better team won on Sunday and has absolutely earned its spot in the NFC playoffs.

The Saints look to be a dangerous team heading into January. Their offense has great balance with quarterback Drew Brees now as the complement to the stout Saints running game of Pro Bowlers Mark Ingram Jr. and Offensive Rookie of the Year front-runner Alvin Kamara. Atlanta blew a great opportunity to make the playoffs on Sunday, be we all knew that winning in The Big Easy would be tough sledding.

The Saints were able to get pressure on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on several occasions, who was obviously outplayed by Brees the entire afternoon. Atlanta is still alive in the NFC wild card picture, but has opened up quite the race we will all be paying close attention to next Sunday. It’s looking like a race between four teams for the final NFC wild card spot.

Given the nature of this high-profile NFC South rivalry, we were largely expecting a close ball game to be played between Atlanta and New Orleans. The Saints definitely wanted the game more than Atlanta and really started to pull away from the Falcons in the second half. It’s hard to believe that Atlanta had one of the best offenses in NFL history only a year ago.

Maybe these two rival teams meet for a third time this season in the NFC playoffs? That would be the second time they would meet in the postseason. All we know now is that New Orleans would get the game at their place. Atlanta cannot be happy about that. This was a rough game for the Dirty Birds to say the very least.

Three Stars

  1. Mark Ingram Jr.: Ingram had 13 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown. As a receiver, he had three catches for 22 yards.
  2. Manti Te’o: Te’o had four tackles, three solo, two for a loss of yardage and a fumble recovery.
  3. Drew Brees: Brees completed 21 of 28 passes for 239 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Highlights

Next Game

Atlanta will host the NFC South rival Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon in Week 17. Kickoff from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will be at 1:00 p.m. ET on Dec. 31. FOX will have the early afternoon telecast.

New Orleans will travel to Tampa to take on the NFC South rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon in Week 17. Kickoff from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa will be at 1:00 p.m. ET on Dec. 31. FOX will have the early afternoon telecast.



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