We’re left with just two Thursday Night games left this season, and they’re the polar opposite of each other. One’s a huge matchup with playoff implications surrounding it, and the other is a lame duck game between two underwhelming teams.
Let’s leave the latter for next week.
Last week’s game featured the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins lived up to its average watchability score. It was a mostly competitive game through three quarters before the Cowboys ran away with it late, winning 38-14. This week’s TNF contest is also a division rivalry, and it looks to be a great one. The Atlanta Falcons will host the New Orleans Saints in an exciting matchup. Here we go.
Playoff implications: as big as they come. The Saints lead the NFC South at 9-3, with the Carolina Panthers a game behind at 8-4 and the Falcons two games back at 7-5. They’re currently the fourth seed in the NFC, but with the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings at 10-2 and the Los Angeles Rams at 9-3, there’s a lot of room for movement at the top of the conference.
Meanwhile, the Falcons lost to the Vikings last week, which moved them out of the final wild-card spot. They’re still a game behind the Panthers and Seattle Seahawks, so they’re not out of it yet. This game’s a must-win for them.
3 points out of 3
Division rivalry/past history: the South has thrived this season, and it’s no secret that the Falcons and Saints are always near the top of the division. The former leads the overall series 51-45 and won both contests last season, which were high scoring affairs.
It’s interesting to note that, since 2013, the Falcons and Saints have flip-flopped each season, with the Saints winning both games that year, the Falcons besting them in 2014’s two games, and so on. Could that mean that the Saints are destined to win both this week’s game and the rematch in two weeks?
2 points out of 2 (5 out of 5 points total)
Team quality: a matchup between a 9-3 team and a 7-5 team should be an indication of how good this game should be, but what puts it over the top is the consistency both squads have shown on offense AND defense.
The Saints defense had a hot start but have fallen off a bit due to injuries. They still rank as 12th overall in the NFL. Their offense is meeting its usual high standards, clocking in at 2nd behind the New England Patriots. The Falcons are one of the more balanced teams in the league this season; they’re 8th in both offense and defense.
2 points out of 2 (7 out of 7 points total)
The Saints offense has become more deadly than it used to be with the addition of stud rookie running back Alvin Kamara, who’s a threat in both the pass and run game. For the Falcons, Ryan will have Julio Jones, arguably the best receiver in the league, to toss deep passes to.
2 points out of 2 (9 out of 9 points total)
Must-see players/record watch: Brees has been jockeying with Tom Brady for third place in all-time touchdown passes for most of 2017. They’re currently tied with 482 total, so Brees can easily move ahead tonight.
There are numerous players worth noting, but elite wide receivers versus shutdown corners will be a theme on both sides of the ball. Jones will be covered by either hotshot rookie Marshon Lattimore, who is a game-time decision with an injury, or Ken Crawley, who is also having a nice season. Conversely, Michael Thomas will be facing off with Desmond Trufant.
1 point out of 1 (1o out of 10 points total)
Well, look at that. The first perfect score in Should I Watch the Thing? history. This is definitely a game that any football fan should tune in for. It has a little of everything: playoff relevance, a division rivalry and two talented teams that are usually fun to watch. Here’s hoping it’s as good as advertised.