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QBREES9 12-27-2010 05:01 PM

New Orleans Saints' road to the Super Bowl must go through Atlanta
 
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What stands between the New Orleans Saints and more revelry?

A rivalry.

The defending Super Bowl champions can secure at least a wild-card playoff berth with a victory at Atlanta on Monday, but that's far from a simple task. The Falcons are 19-1 at the Georgia Dome with Matt Ryan starting at quarterback, their only loss coming more than two years ago to Denver.

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And even though the Falcons have already made the playoffs, they still have plenty of incentive to keep winning. If they beat the Saints on Monday or Carolina in their finale, the Falcons will clinch the top seeding in the NFC and a first-round bye.

The Saints are two games behind them in the NFC South, so their chances for another division crown are slim. They would need to win Monday, and beat Tampa Bay in their finale, then have the Panthers upset the Falcons.

To qualify for the playoffs, the Saints need to win one of their last two games, or have the Buccaneers lose once.

"The next two games are very big. They don't get any bigger," New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees told reporters. "We control our own destiny, and we have a lot to play for. It's too early to look at the playoff picture right now, but if we are a wild-card team, the road to the Super Bowl will be on the road."

The Saints won in Atlanta last December, but that was when the Falcons were without both Ryan and running back Michael Turner because of injuries. Earlier this season, the Falcons won in overtime, 27-24, after Saints kicker Garrett Hartley had missed a 29-yard field-goal attempt in the extra period.

Atlanta, which has won eight in a row and hasn't played at home in a month, is in position to win its first division title since 2004.

Last week, Falcons receiver Roddy White caused a stir with some trash talking on his Twitter account, in response to ESPN's Trent Dilfer saying the Saints might just beat the Falcons and come right back and beat them in the playoffs.

"No chance in hell the Aints come into the dome and win once trent dilfer," White tweeted.

In another tweet, White wrote: "The grace of god gave them that championship so that city wouldn fall apart now…"

He later apologized for that, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I really didn't say anything about the hurricane, but they took it that way. I wasn't trying to say anything mean about the city."

Regardless, he might have been speaking for everyone in Atlanta's locker room when he expressed relief that the game would take place in their city.

sam.farmer@latimes.com
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

CheramieIII 12-27-2010 05:18 PM

No the road to the Superbowl goes through Houston or Shreveport depending if you're from north or south Louisiana.

QBREES9 12-27-2010 05:19 PM

Good one. Cher


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