Once, when someone asked me about the Falcons-Saints rivalry, I explained that if you moved the Bears and Packers south and you put them in two cities that loved to party, you would get the Saints-Falcons rivalry.
“It’s pure hate,” I told someone, “Like its the Bears-Packers rivalry times a thousand.”
Similar to the Packers, who have owned the Bears in my lifetime, the Saints have pretty much owned the team in Atlanta since 2000, despite the fact the Falcons hold a slight edge in overall games (46-43 in favor of Atlanta).
That being said, here’s some hard truths that you may or may not know about the Saints’ first opponent of the season.
1. Nobody in Atlanta cares about the Falcons
In the winter of 2008, I took a trip to Atlanta for a church conference. Around the same time I was there, the Falcons, in the first season of the Matt Ryan era, reached the playoffs.
Believing that there would be euphoria in the city and surrounding area, I asked a hotel worker of they were excited about the playoffs.
“I’m a Steelers fan,” they said.
2. Matt Ryan will never be the greatest Falcon QB
Statistically speaking, Matt Ryan is hands down the best quarterback the Falcon franchise has ever had.
However, from a marketing and cultural standpoint, Ryan, who has the personality of a rock, will never have that much of an impact on the Falcon fanbase.
When Michael Vick played for the Falcons, he made the team for a short time nationally relevant. Watching Vick with the Falcons was appointment TV.
Watching Ryan with the Falcons is like watching PBS.
3. Falcon fans (some of them) are pond scum
Earlier this summer (actually sometime in the spring), a bird looking girl named Bree kept mentioning how the Saint fanbase tripled after Katrina hit.
“A lot of y’all weren’t Saint fans until Katrina hit,” she said.
While I’m keenly aware that there nutjobs in every fanbase, some Falcon fans can only bring up two things to Saint fans, bounty and Katrina.
4. There’s only one celebrity that’s a Falcon fan
Samuel L. Jackson is one of my favorite actors of all time, however, the only knock against him should be his allegiance to the Falcons.
Make better choices pal.
5. Dan Reeves is the best coach in team history
Dan Reeves, the last Falcon coach to have a winning record against the Saints, is the best coach in team history. The reason for this is that in his tenure, he managed to not only take the Falcons to the Super Bowl, but beat the Packers at Lambeau in the playoffs.
6. Sean Payton ran Bobby Petrino off to Arkansas
Late in the 2007 season in the Georgia Dome, the Saints destroyed the Falcons in Superdome East 34-14.
Hours later, Petrino was head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.
7. Two thirds of the fans in the Georgia Dome root for the opponent.
During the 1990’s, Arizona’s Sun Devil Stadium was home to one of the worst home field advantages in pro football, where it seemed that most of the fans were pulling for the opponent.
The same could be said about the Georgia Dome, where 40-60 percent of the fans pull for the opponent.
Hence the term Superdome East.