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Game preview: New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons

Teams face off in 'Thursday Night Football'

The top 10 photos of the New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, December 21, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)

The New Orleans Saints (1-4) will wrap up their first round of NFC South games this Thursday night as they aim for their second consecutive victory at home when they host the Atlanta Falcons (5-0) in a nationally televised prime time contest that is set for 7:25 p.m..    

New Orleans is coming off a 39-17 loss at the Philadelphia Eagles, as they faced their second consecutive NFC East opponent. In that game, the youthful receiving duo of Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead enjoyed productive contests, with each reaching 100 yards receiving for the first time in their young careers. Cooks, the club's first round draft pick in 2014, made five grabs for 107 yards with one touchdown and a 46-yard grab. Snead, a former undrafted free agent in his first year on an active roster, led New Orleans in catches and yardage when he posted six receptions for 141 yards (23.5 avg.), including four grabs for at least 20 yards, one a 59-yard reception.   

Defensively, CBs Delvin Breaux and Brandon Browner picked up their first interceptions of the season, when they each picked off passes in the end zone thrown by Eagles QBSam Bradford in the first half.      

However, overall the Eagles held the edge in several key categories including total yards (519-388), first downs (34-19), time of possession (34:02-25:58) and New Orleans committed two more turnovers than Philadelphia (4-2) and committed three more penalties (7-4) for 43 more yards (78-35). In fact, the four turnovers forced by Philadelphia led directly to 20 points, 17 in the second half.       

The Falcons, under the guidance of first-year Head Coach Dan Quinn, earned their fifth consecutive victory of the season in dramatic fashion with a 25-19 overtime win over the Washington Redskins at the Georgia Dome. In that game, CB Robert Alford, a native of Hammond who played at Southeastern Louisiana University, returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown in overtime.     

In 2014, the Falcons swept the season series for the first time since 2005. On Sept. 7, 2014, Atlanta defeated New Orleans 37-34 in overtime at the Georgia Dome and on Dec. 21 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Falcons ended the Saints' division title hopes with a 30-14 win.      

Overall, in the oldest series between teams that currently reside in the NFC South, the two clubs have met 91 times in the regular season and once in the postseason, with Atlanta holding a 48-43 regular season edge. The Saints have come out on top in 13 of the past 18 meetings, a streak which dates back to the first meeting of 2006, when Sean Payton became head coach of the Saints.

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