Tuesday, 21 December 2010 14:36

New Orleans Saints Greer Knee Negative; Atlanta Falcons Look To Playoffs

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Summary: Jabari Greer injured knee is negative; Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints have special needs in game between NFC rivals.


The Saints won’t lose Jabari Greer, their best cornerback, for long, because the tests on his injured knee were negative.

"We'll just see where he's at," said Saints coach Sean Payton, referring to Greer, who had to leave Sunday's game in the second quarter.

The Saints should also get kicker returner and hammer on the punt returns Courtney Roby back for Monday night's game at Atlanta.

The Saints offense is playing better in recent games with rookie Chris Ivory in the lineup, but he sat out the Ravens game with a sore hamstring. The Saints running game against the Ravens was almost non-existent and fell to 26th in the NFL.  The Saints defense has also shown cracks.

The Saints need to win one of their final two games to make the playoffs, but they would like to avoid needing a victory in Week 17 against the Bucs to get in.

The Saints would also like to hold on to the NFC's No. 6 seed so they could open the playoffs at the NFC West winner.

Meanwhile, the Falcons, favored by 2 1/2 points over the Saints, need a win over the Saints to claim the NFC South title and home-field advantage. The Dirty Birds already are making plans for the postseason.

The Falcons (12-2) can clear up their status with a victory over the Saints (10-4) at the Georgia Dome. With a victory over the Saints, the Falcons can wrap up the NFC South title and the home-field advantage throughout the playoffs like the Saints had last season.

The Falcons are 19-3 in the Georgia Dome under coach Mike Smith. Their last home loss came against the Saints last season. Dating back to last season, they have won seven straight games at home.

Last season, with quarterback Matt Ryan sat out with a turf toe injury Chris Redman passed for 303 yards and nearly pulled off an upset last Dec. 13. The Saints won 26-23 to move to 13-0 in their march to the Super Bowl title.

The Falcons have been invincible at home this season, pounding a few teams and pulling off miracle finishes against the 49ers and Ravens.

To enhance the Falcons' home-field edge, Smith has asked late-arriving fans to be on time for this kickoff. That shouldn't be a problem for the nationally televised game on Monday night, two days after Christmas.

In this season's first battle with the Saints, the Falcons were beneficiaries of a missed 29-yard field goal attempt in overtime by Garrett Hartley.

With new life, the Falcons marched down the field to get into field goal range. Matt Bryant's 46-yard field goal with 1:55 left provided the victory.

The Falcons will try to run the football at the Saints again, especially after the Ravens plowed through the Saints for 208 yards rushing last Sunday. The Falcons rushed for 202 yards in their first meeting. Falcons running back Michael Turner had 144 yards rushing in that game.

After playing four of their last five games on the road, the Falcons are looking forward to returning to the Georgia Dome.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere in the Dome," said Ryan, who's 19-1 on his home field. "Everybody is looking forward to it."

The Saints have fallen to No. 5 in Pro Football Talk.com's weekly NFL power rankings. They were No. 3 last week. "Whether or not they had beaten the Ravens, the defending champions will most likely have to do it the hard way this year by playing postseason games away from the Superdome,"...Eli Manning, Giants quarterback,wanted everyone to know what he felt, that as painful and terrible as  it was to to collapse in such spectacular fashion and blow a game to the Eagles, all is not lost. Eli spoke to the players for  a few minutes on Monday, trying to repair what was broken and restore some spirit in time for their next game on Sunday at Green Bay...The Giants are seeking a wild card berth in the playoffs...I have a keen sense of rumor...


The West is up for grabs. St. Louis and Seattle are 6-8 and San Francisco is 5-9. All three teams have games against at least one of the other two. It will come down to week 17 when the Rams and Seahawks face each other.


NFC Playoff Picture
Here's how NFC playoffs break down:

Atlanta Falcons, 12-2
Clinched playoff berth. Can clinch No. 1 seed with win and Saints loss.

Philadelphia Eagles, 10-4.
Can clinch NFC East with a win. Can clinch first-round bye with wins and Bears loss.

Chicago Bears, 10-4
Won NFC North with win over the Vikings.  Clinch first-round bye with another win and Eagles loss.


Saints, 10-4.
Can clinch NFC South with two wins and two Falcons losses. Can clinch a wild card with a win.

New York Giants, 9-5
Can clinch NFC East with two wins and two Eagles losses. Can clinch wild card with a win.

Green Bay Packers, 8-6
Can clinch NFC North with two wins and two Bears losses. Clinch wild card with wins over Giants and Bears.

Tampa Bay Bucs, 8-6
Clinch wild card with two wins and two Giants losses and Packers loss.

Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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