Brees Eyes Marino As Saints Play Falcons In Playoffs-Bound Rematch
  // Monday, 26 December 2011 12:20 //

drew_breesThe New Orleans Saints are playoff-bound, but they haven't clinched the NFC South yet, but for their Monday Night Football rival Falcons to win the division and clinch a home play of game, they would have to beat the Saints and win over Tampa Bay next week. The The Falcons would also need to hope the Saints lose their finale against Carolina.

 The Saints are favored by 6 1/2 points and have won six straight. They are undefeated in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

 Falcons coach Mike Smith said Saints quarterback Drew Brees "is probably operating at a level we haven't seen," having thrown 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the last five games. Because of Brees, an NFL MVP candidate, the 11-3 Saints are a Super Bowl threat.

 Brees also needs 305 yards to break Dan Marino's NFL single-season passing yardage record.

 The Falcons (9-5) are 7-1 against teams currently with losing records, 2-4 against teams with winning or .500 records.

 "This is an important game because we're going down the stretch and this is a big test for us," Falcons wide receiver Roddy White told the ajc.com. "This could really be a big statement game for us, especially if we have to go back down there to play these guys again in two weeks."

"Guys have had this game circled," said coach Smith. 

"This is the one we want," said White. 

The Falcons believe they gave their game away against the Saints six weeks ago. The Saints won in overtime 26-23, and you may recall something about a fourth-and-one decision by coach Smith in overtime that backfired. But the Falcons had three red zone possessions that resulted in only field goals and Matt Bryant missed a field goal. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw an interception that led to three Saints' points.

 Falcons running threat Michael Turner has been struggling on a groin pull and is averaging less than 100 yards rushing the past three weeks.

 The Saints are playing their best football of the season and should win their seventh straight.

 Prediction: Take the Falcons and the 6 1/2 points. Final: Saints 31-28.


SOME HITHER, OTHERS YON: Falcons coach Mike Smith: "Drew Brees is playing as well as anyone has ever played the quarterback position, in my mind,: the coach told Albert Breer of NFL Network. "He's 72 per cent for the season and that is not just dink-and-dunk. He's going to beat Marino's record. It's mind-boggling. So I think all our guys know they'll have to have their best games."...

Look for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to use the no-huddle offense against the Saints on Monday night, Ryan will look over the Saints defense and communicate the play at the line of scrimmage. Because the Superdome will be loud, Ryan will use hand signals. The players have the plays memorized. "I love the way Matt Ryan is using the no-huddle," said ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski...

Saints running back Mark Ingram is still practicing on a turf toe. Said Saints radio analyst and former running back Hokie Gajan: "A turf toe is as painful as the gout." The injury will sideline the most well-trained athlete (that's Ingram), The injury is a very vigorous bending of the big toe resulting in damage to the ligaments under the big toe..Dolphins' Reggie Bush went over the 1,000-yards rushing total the past Saturday for the first time in his NFL career.

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