Fal­cons ea­ger to send mes­sage to Su­per Bowl champs

The Pak Banker - - I Nternational -

AT­LANTA: The de­fend­ing Su­per Bowl champs have been look­ing up at the At­lanta Fal­cons for more than two months.

About time for the New Or­leans Saints to send a mes­sage. "We've got an op­por­tu­nity late in the year to maybe reestab­lish the bal­ance of power," Saints full­back Heath Evans said. "They came to our house and beat us the first time, and now we've got the test to try to do that to them. It won't be an easy one, for sure."

New Or­leans (10-4) lost to the Fal­cons at home in the open­ing month of the sea­son and has trailed the Fal­cons in the NFC South ever since an up­set loss to Cleve­land on Oct. 24. While the Saints have won six out of seven since then, At­lanta (12-2) hasn't stum­bled at all. An eight-game win­ning streak has the Fal­cons on the verge of wrap­ping up their first di­vi­sion ti­tle since 2004 and home-field ad­van­tage in the NFC play­offs.

They can ac­com­plish both with a vic­tory Mon­day night over their biggest ri­val.

"That's a lot of good things," At­lanta quar­ter­back Matt Ryan said. "When you put your­self in good po­si­tion all year, you know games are go­ing to mean some­thing down the stretch. There's cer­tainly a lot at stake. ... We know that."

The Fal­cons have even given them­selves some mar­gin for er­ror. They've al­ready locked up a play­off spot. Even if they lose to the Saints, they will merely need to beat Carolina (2-13) at home in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale to lock up ev­ery­thing that's at stake in this one.

But New Or­leans isn't the only team try­ing to send a mes­sage Mon­day night.

"You never want to leave any doubt," said Roddy White, the Fal­cons star re­ceiver and chief provo­ca­teur. "That's the tone in our locker room. We want to beat these guys again, be­cause we don't want to leave any doubt. You never want to lose to a team, then have them come back and play you again."

In­deed, both teams re­al­ize there's a very real pos­si­bil­ity they'll be fac­ing each other again in a few weeks in the play­offs. -Afp

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