New Orleans Saints have owned the Falcons, and no indication that could change Sunday
There's nothing bulletin board material worthy about this: The New Orleans Saints own the Atlanta Falcons.
What's the point of the Falcons posting that statement in their locker room? It's probably been splashed across the walls at the team's practice facility in Flowery Branch, Ga., the past few seasons as Saints-Falcons week approaches.
Whatever the case, it hasn't worked.
The Saints are 13-3 against Atlanta since Sean Payton and Drew Brees teamed up in New Orleans in 2006 and are favored to pick up the team's 14th win Sunday in the Georgia Dome to open the regular season. (Technically, Payton is 12-2 after missing the 2012 season because of the NFL's sanctions connected to the bounty scandal.)
It hasn't mattered whether the Saints were on their way to a playoff run or not. It hasn't mattered if the Falcons were having one of their best seasons in franchise history. The Saints put away the Falcons year in and year out.
The Falcons were at their best in 2012 when they earned home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The Saints were nearly at their worst as the team drifted through the season marred by the bounty scandal.
Atlanta still only split the season series with the Saints.
The Falcons also gained home-field advantage throughout the postseason in 2010. And still, Atlanta only took the Saints down once that season.
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Rachel Whittaker and FOX 8's Chad Sabadie preview the Saints' season opener Sunday at Atlanta at noon.
After a win over Atlanta in 2012 former Saints linebacker Scott Shanle told Yahoo! that New Orleans owns the Falcons, equating them to "little brothers." Shanle didn't back too far off his assessment later that week.
"I think more than anything, it was the pregame festivities that led to the comments I made," Shanle said. "I think you could just get the sense from them that they were 8-0 and we were just supposed to understand that and bow to them.
"Nothing I said wasn't true, besides maybe calling them our little brother. They can dispute that. But me saying that we're 11-2 or whatever our record is, that's a fact. So they can be mad that I spoke about it. But other than that, you know, nothing I said wasn't true."
Linebacker Curtis Lofton poked at his former team in 2012: "A rivalry? I wouldn't say so because the Saints are always out on top of that. It's not even."
Lofton stayed vanilla with his thoughts about possessing a mental edge over Atlanta when I asked him about it this week. He didn't downplay the team's confidence, though, when facing the Falcons -- or anyone else in the NFL for that matter.
"For us as a team, no matter who we play or wherever we play, we go into the game thinking we're going to win no matter who it is," Lofton said. "I wouldn't say there's a psychological edge.
"I think we have an edge on anybody in the league that we're playing against."
Both teams tried to downplay the Saints' dominance in recent series history, saying it had no bearing on this season, each side offering kudos to the other.
"I feel like they're always a very good team," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "Look at their track record over the last five years, six years, I guess as long as (Falcons coach) Mike Smith has been there. Playoffs four times, right? Us over the past six years ... (also made the) playoffs four times.
"You could say that both teams are very high-achieving. Both teams have won a lot of games. Both teams play well at home. Both teams know how to win and kind of know the formula. Every time you play these guys, you feel like there is a lot at stake. You are playing for a lot.
"I'd like to think that brings out the best in us."
Smith kept it elementary.
"We have to score more points than they do," Smith said. "In the NFL, it's a very competitive league and 25 percent of all games are decided by three points or less and over 50 percent are decided by eight points or less. We need to make plays to get more points than the New Orleans Saints.
"It is real simple. Unfortunately, we haven't done that. There is no such thing as close in the NFL. You are judged by wins and losses, and that is it. We've got to score more points."
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan added: "I don't think it's something we worry too much about what's happened the last couple of years. I think really what it comes down to is this week. But we have a lot of respect for them. They have a really good football team for a long time. We expect a tough matchup on Sunday."
But there's no denying the Saints are in the Falcons' head.
If they weren't rattling Atlanta's cage, then why would Falcons owner Arthur Blank vent about Kenny Vaccaro's hit on Ryan in last year's Week 1 matchup seven months after the fact?
"And that play really bothered me, sincerely," Blank said. "It bothered me that none of our players, they all complained, but none of them went to the safety on the Saints and did anything.
"Not that they would start a fight, but just kind of put their finger in his chest and saying, 'That's not acceptable.'"
Payton pointed to his emphasis of mastering the minutest of details in preparation for Atlanta. Ten of the 16 games have been decided by 10 points or less, and six have been decided by four points or fewer.
But the Saints have won all of the lopsided games in this matchup during that span (four wins by 18 points or more) and won most of the tight ones as well (9-2 in games decided by 10 points or less).
Sure, the "little brother" might pull off a win every now and again. But the big brother typically dominates the backyard battles.
I'd expect that trend to continue Sunday. There's no denying the Saints hold the mental edge, and the Saints are a better team from top to bottom entering the season.
Dam mule very detailed lol. I won't be able to watch the game unfortunately I get the enjoyment of watching my beloved cowboys get torched up and down the field, when that game is suppose to be on. Ill be getting my updates on mules saints thread.