After a nail-biting win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 12, the New Orleans Saints play their fourth division game in a row in Week 13 against the Atlanta Falcons.
The New Orleans Saints only played one game within the NFC South prior to their buy week but then started the second half of the season with four consecutive games against division foes.
So far the Saints are 2-1 against the NFC South in this period and 3-1 overall. The one loss came right after the bye week against the Atlanta Falcons, who came out firing as if it was their personal Super Bowl to shock the Saints.
New Orleans then handled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers relatively easily and won a nail-biter against the Carolina Panthers. The difference in that game was Joey Slye missing the go-ahead field goal whereas Wil Lutz nailed it to win the game.
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Ironically, the Falcons beating the Saints three weeks ago can make Saint fans more confident heading into this game. The logic being that the Falcons cannot beat the Saints twice in one year, especially if the Saints want to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs.
However, that is exactly the logic that makes this game dangerous and the New Orleans Saints themselves have to refrain from falling victim to the old trap game narrative. If there ever was a trap game, this is the one.
Not only could you have those thoughts because of the result earlier in the season, but the Saints also have to play this game on a short week on Thursday night. Thursday nights are dangerous for this reason and it really is true that anything can happen on Thursday.
Also, the Saints take on the San Francisco 49ers the following week. The 49ers dismantled the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, perhaps proving once and for all that they are (for now) the best team in the NFC, or at least deserving the number one seed.
With the 49ers having one loss on the season this game is going to be massive. If the Saints end up winning out and this is the only other loss on the season for the 49ers then the Saints would have the tiebreaker.
If the Saints lose they will not only be down two games (assuming the 49ers win in Week 13), but they will have to overcome the tiebreaker, meaning they would have to win the final three games and the 49ers would have to lose them.
Granted, the Saints might get some help in Week 13 as the 49ers take on the red-hot Baltimore Ravens, but whichever way you spin it, this is the most important regular-season game of the year.
For that reason, the Saints are not going to throw the kitchen sink at the Falcons and instead should look to keep everyone healthy and win this game as quickly as possible and just get out of Atlanta. Literally nothing great can come from this game, only negatives.
For that reason, this is the textbook example of a trap game and the New Orleans Saints are going to have to calibrate and not look past their three-win division foe.