Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn writes fans a work excuse note

Referee takes out Falcons lineman with flag thrown directly at his face

Now atop the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints are showing they weren't more than just their loss to the Rams.

The Carolina Panthers lost again to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, 31-21, to fall to 8-4 on the season, as the Saints completed the season sweep of the Panthers.

Michael Thomas is atop the New Orleans receiving corps with his 75 catches for 875 yards and three touchdowns.

By all accounts the Atlanta Falcons' new home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, is quite a sight. The Saints meanwhile are 3-2 on the road. Heading into their game against the Panthers, it was unclear if they would even show up.

The Falcons have flashed some glimpses of their high-powered offense from the previous season. "So, its a great sense of urgency and great time management".

Fair or not, much of the blame, and the burden for these next four games, falls on Matt Ryan (above, right). He has a passer rating of 104.2. You know these games are going to come down to the end of the game, last possession.

With such a pivotal game looming, here are four bold predictions for tomorrow night's NFC South showdown. Andy Levitre has a triceps injury and is out for the game.

The Saints' defensive backfield especially could have benefitted from some extra downtime.

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The Saints will benefit greatly if both Lattimore and rookie free safety Marcus Williams (who missed last week with a groin injury) are healthy.

Will familiarity due to two annual contests against the Falcons help speed up scouting and preparation? I wouldn't say I'm disappointed.

"It's six days of preparation into three days so today was like a Wednesday, Thursday and tomorrow is like a Friday, Saturday", said quarterback Drew Brees. It wouldn't surprise me to see a run-heavy clock-control game here (despite two elite QBs on the field), and I think that scenario favors the Saints. He's also tops in the National Football League with nine rushing touchdowns, all of those coming since the Saints' Week 5 bye (eight games).

New Orleans enters this game with a 9-3 mark so far. In the nine wins that number jumps to 91.3.

Rookie corner Marshon Lattimore has more than held his own as the Saints No. 1 corner. Besides averaging seven yards per carry and now sitting 17th in rushing, Kamara is averaging slightly more yards per game as a receiver (51.2 vs 50.5). But the week before that, Jones busted loose for 12 catches, 253 yards and two touchdowns against the Buccaneers.

"They can run", Payton said of Dan Quinn's defense. The second-year tight end has topped 50 yards just once all season and it came on a broken play in Week 1. They face the Falcons on Thursday (Dec. 7) in Atlanta, so what better time to relive some our fondest memories of fans trolling the Falcons?

The non-Panthers game of most interest to Panthers fans this week is for sure the Thursday nighter, when the Falcons host the Saints - the first of two meetings in a three-week span.

- Written by John La Fleur, a contributor to AthlonSports.com, who focuses on the New Orleans Saints and Michigan State Spartans.

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