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Game Preview: Saints vs. Falcons - 2023 NFL Week 18

The Atlanta Falcons visit the New Orleans Saints in Week 18 for their 2023 NFL regular season finale on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2023 at noon CT on CBS.

saints vs falcons game preview week 18 2023 (1)

WEEK 18 · Sun 01/07 · 12:00 PM CST


Atlanta Falcons



New Orleans Saints

WWL 105.3FM/870 AM
Caesars Superdome

The 109th regular season matchup between the New Orleans Saints (8-8) and the Atlanta Falcons (7-9) will be of utmost importance to the postseason hopes of both teams. A New Orleans victory over Atlanta combined with a Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss/tie at the Carolina Panthers would earn New Orleans their first division title since 2020. Even if Tampa Bay wins, a Saints victory and loss/tie by both the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers would catapult New Orleans into a Wild Card playoff spot and set up a road matchup in Super Wild Card weekend.

The Atlanta Falcons' playoff hopes are similarly aligned, needing a win against the Saints and a Buccaneers loss in Week 18 to punch their ticket to the postseason. Atlanta must win the NFC South as they've been eliminated from Wild Card contention with a 7-9 record.

Following a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season, New Orleans started their journey back to contention for their first playoff berth in three years with a 28-6 victory 
over the Carolina Panthers on December 10 and have won three of the last four contests to even their record at 8-8.

The formula for New Orleans' improved play has varied little over the last four contests since the Saints did not surrender a touchdown in the first two of the four contests. The defense and special teams have forced six takeaways, while the offense has turned the ball over only twice. The Saints defense has surrendered only five touchdowns and 13.8 points per game in their last four contests, both the league's lowest total.


The Saints-Falcons regular season series is tied 54-54, with New Orleans holding a 24-11 advantage over the Falcons since 2006. Since 1991, 36 games have been decided by eight points or less. The Falcons had a 10-game winning streak from 1995-99, which remains the Saints' longest winless streak against an opponent. New Orleans took 13-of-16 in the rivalry from 1986-94 and Atlanta won nine-straight over the fledgling Saints from 1969-73. Atlanta's most recent mastery over a five-year period ended with a 21-19 win for New Orleans at the Georgia Dome on Nov. 22, 2000. Eight games in the series have gone into overtime.

In the 107 regular season games of the series there has been:

  • 2,296 points scored by New Orleans, 2,394 allowed.
  • A ten-game Atlanta winning streak from 1995-99.
  • A six-game win streak for New Orleans from 1986-89.
  • 45 games decided by double-digits.
  • 17 games decided by 21 or more points.
  • 54 games decided by seven points or less.
  • 4 games decided by one point.
  • A 38-point win by Saints (11/1/87) - Biggest Saints win.
  • A 55-point loss by Saints (9/16/73) - Biggest Saints loss.
  • Four shutouts - Two by each club, the most recent a 38-0 win in Atlanta on 11/1/87.
  • Eight overtime games— four wins by each club.
  • Six Monday night games, two Sunday night games and eight Thursday night games, including Thanksgiving night in 2018 and 2019.


Atlanta Falcons 24, New Orleans Saints 15; Nov. 26, 2023 - Week 12 @ Mercedes-Benz Stadium - The Atlanta Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints 24-15 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as injuries, turnovers, and an inability to get into the end zone were too much for the Saints to overcome. The loss dropped the Saints, coming off their bye, to 5-6 and the Falcons improved to 5-6.

The Saints lost their top two receivers to injuries (Chris Olave left with a concussion in the third quarter, Rashid Shaheed to a thigh injury), tight end Juwan Johnson left after taking a shot to his head, defensive end Cameron Jordan left the game in the fourth quarter with a shin injury, cornerback Alontae Taylor was in and out of the lineup, running back Jamaal Williams left in the fourth quarter and center Erik McCoy had to briefly leave the game.

Quarterback Derek Carr gave up a 92-yard pick-six in the first quarter and Taysom Hill had the ball punched out at the Atlanta 5-yard line, ending a great scoring opportunity in the third quarter. The Saints were able to move the ball but couldn't get into the end zone as they had to settle for five Blake Grupe field goals (25, 52, 41, 45 and 39 yards). 🔎FULL GAME RECAP


2023 NFL League Rankings

Table inside Article
Saints Falcons
Record 8-8 7-9
Scoring Avg. (NFL Rank) 22.1 (14t) 19.0 (26)
Opp. Scoring Avg. (NFL Rank) 19.4 (6) 20.3 (9t)
Total Off. (NFL Rank) 333.3 (16) 330.9 (18)
Rushing Off. (NFL Rank) 99.3 (21) 130.1 (8)
Passing Off. (NFL Rank) 234.0 (12) 200.8 (22)
Total Def. (NFL Rank) 316.1 (13) 323.3 (11)
Rushing Def. (NFL Rank) 122.5 (21) 115.9 (19)
Passing Def. (NFL Rank) 200.8 (9) 200.2 (8)
Kickoff Return Avg. (NFL Rank) 21.2 (23) 16.9 (31)
Punt Return Avg. (NFL Rank) 12.5 (5) 7.3 (27)
Turnover Margin (NFL Rank) +8 (7t) -9 (28)
Penalties 93 76
Penalty Yards 831 668
Opp. Penalties 94 101
Opp. Penalty Yards 600 816


Saints' Largest Margin of Victory:

38 points, Saints won 38-0 on 11/01/87 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

Falcons' Largest Margin of Victory:

55 points, Falcons won 62-7 on 09/16/73 at Tulane Stadium.

Current Series Streak:

Falcons won last contest, 11/26/23-.

Saints' Longest Win Streak:

Six games, 12/14/86-11/19/89.

Falcons' Longest Win Streak:

ten games, 9/17/95-12/05/99.

Most Points by Saints in a Game:

45 points (twice), most recent, Saints won 45-16 on 12/26/11 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Most Points by Falcons in a Game:

62 points, Falcons won 62-7 on 9/16/73 at Tulane Stadium.

Most Combined Points (Both Teams):

80 points, Saints won 43-37 on 9/23/18 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Fewest Points by Saints in a Game:

0 points (twice), most recent, Falcons won 27-0 on 09/06/81 at AtlantaFulton County Stadium.

Fewest Points by Falcons in a Game:

Zero points (twice), last, Saints won 30-0, 10/10/76 at Superdome.

Fewest Combined Points (Both Teams):

16 points, Saints won 13-3 on 10/20/74 at Atlanta Stadium


A look at the top individual performances for Saints players vs. Atlanta in the previous 108 regular season meetings.


  1. RB Deuce McAllister – 28 carries for 173 yards, @ the Louisiana Superdome, Nov. 16, 2003
  2. RB Chuck Muncie – 22 carries for 161 yards, @ the Louisiana Superdome, Sept. 2, 1979
  3. RB Dalton Hilliard – 29 carries for 158 yards, @ Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Nov. 19, 1989


  1. QB Drew Brees – 31-of-58 for 422 yards, @ Georgia Dome, Nov. 9, 2008
  2. QB Drew Brees – 39-of-49 for 396 yards, @ Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Sept. 23, 2018
  3. QB Drew Brees – 36-of-54 for 376 yards, @ the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Sept. 26, 2016


  1. WR Wes Chandler – Six receptions for 205 yards (club record), @ the Louisiana Superdome, Sept. 2, 1979
  2. WR Larry Burton – Four receptions for 159 yards, @ the Louisiana Superdome, Nov. 2, 1975
  3. WR Devery Henderson – Four receptions for 158 yards, @ Georgia Dome, Nov. 26, 2006


New Orleans RB Alvin Kamara is an Atlanta native who prepped at Norcross (Ga.) HS, where he rushed for 2,264 yards and 26 touchdowns while averaging 7.5 yards per carry and added 22 receptions for 286 yards and five scores as a senior in 2012, earning Georgia Mr. Football honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Kamara and Atlanta linebacker Lorenzo Carter were high school teammates.

Saints cornerback Isaac Yiadom and Carter were teammates with the New York Giants in 2020.

Yiadom and Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom were college teammates at Boston College from 2015-17.

Atlanta Defensive Coordinator Ryan Nielsen coached the Saints defensive line from 2017-20, served as Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line in 2021 and as Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line in 2022.

Falcons General Manager Terry Fontenot is a Lake Charles native and four-year letterman at Tulane who worked in the New Orleans front office from 2003-20, most recently serving as Vice President/assistant general manager/pro personnel during his final season in New Orleans.

Saints Head Coach Dennis Allen's father, Grady, played for Atlanta from 1968-72.

Allen served on the Falcons defensive coaching staff from 2002-05 before coming to New Orleans in 2006.

Saints guard/center Max Garcia prepped at Norcross (Ga.) HS, where he also competed in the shot put and the discus.

Saints CB Paulson Adebo and Falcons OL Drew Dalman were college teammates at Stanford.

Saints wide receiver Chris Olave, linebacker Pete Werner and Falcons long snapper Liam McCullough and cornerback Jeff Odukah were college teammates at Ohio State.

New Orleans running back Jamaal Williams and Odukah and Falcons cornerback Mike Hughes were teammates in Detroit from.

New Orleans safety Tyrann Mathieu, defensive tackle Khalen Saunders and Hughes were teammates in Kansas City in 2021.

Mathieu and Atlanta defensive end Calais Campbell were teammates in Arizona from 2013-15.

Campbell played for New Orleans Offensive Line Coach Doug Marrone when he was head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2017-19.

New Orleans quarterback Derek Carr played with Atlanta running back Cordarrelle Patterson in Oakland in 2017.

New Orleans TE Jimmy Graham played with Patterson in Chicago in 2020.

Saints Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi and Atlanta Linebackers Coach Frank Bush served on the same Miami Dolphins coaching staff from 2017-18.

New Orleans quarterback Jameis Winston and Falcons punter Bradley Pinion were teammates in Tampa Bay in 2019.

Falcons Assistant Head Coach/Defense Dwayne Ledford went to training camp with the Saints in 2006.

New Orleans Secondary Coach Marcus Robertson and Atlanta Secondary Coach Steve Jackson was tutored by Falcons Assistant Head Coach/Defense Jerry Gray from 1999-2000, when he was the Tennessee Titans secondary coach. Robertson, Gray and Bush served on the same Titans staff in 2011. Robertson and Jackson served on the same Detroit Lions staff in 2013.

Saints tackle Cameron Erving prepped at Colquitt County (Ga.) HS.

Falcons defensive tackle David Onyemata was a third round draft pick of the Saints in 2016 and played for New Orleans from 2016-22.

Atlanta defensive tackle Albert Huggins was a member of the Saints from 2021-22.

Saints defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. and Falcons linebacker Bud Dupree were teammates in Tennessee in 2022.

Atlanta linebacker Kaden Elliss was a seventh round draft pick of New Orleans in 2019 and played for the Saints from 2019-23.

New Orleans wide receiver Keith Kirkwood and Falcons linebacker Arnold Ebiketie were college teammates at Temple in 2017.

Saints linebacker D'Marco Jackson and Falcons guard Ryan Neuzil were college teammates at Appalachian State.

Falcons Director of Player Personnel Ryan Pace worked in the New Orleans front office from 2001-14, including serving as director of player personnel from 2013-14.

Falcons Pro Scout Ben Martinez is a westbank native who came to Atlanta after working in the Saints equipment and video departments.

Atlanta offensive lineman Storm Norton spent the first three weeks of the 2023 season on the Saints practice squad.

New Orleans Tight Ends Coach Clancy Barone served in the same position in Atlanta from 2005-06 and as tight ends coach in 2004.

Atlanta Assistant Director of College Scouting Dwaune Jones served on the Saints player personnel staff from 2005-16.

Saints Senior Scouting Consultant Scott Campbell's father, the late Marion Campbell, was a former head coach of the Falcons.

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 of the 2023 NFL season.

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