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Saints And Falcons Square Off In Feisty Rivalry, Our Prediction

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

When it comes to the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, no love is lost between the two. Since Sean Payton arrived in 2006, the Saints have owned the Atlanta Falcons, winning 11 of 14 contests. Now, the two rivals kickoff the 2013 season (at noon) smelling blood in the water. (Catch the action on ESPN1420)

A win not only gets you off to a 1-0 start, it puts you a game up in the division, a game up in the mind games, a game up in the trash-talking department, and a game up against a despised rival.

The Falcons have talent on offense, and invested in running back Steven Jackson (formerly of the St. Louis Rams) in the offseason. With pro bowl receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones, and a pro bowl tight end in Tony Gonzalez, quarterback Matt Ryan has plenty of toys to play with. However, the overlooked offensive line could prove to be a major issue for the Falcons this season.

Last year’s starting right tackle Tyson Clabo (cut) is gone, as is former starting center Todd McClure (retired). Clabo’s replacement Mike Johnson broke his leg in training camp, so second-year player Lamar Holmes will make his first NFL start today at the Superdome.

New Orleans’ new 3-4 defense is lacking elite talent, but playing a makeshift offensive line will help the Saints in their battle to slow down Jackson and the Atlanta running game. Since 2006, when holding the Falcons under 100 yards, the Saints are 7-0.

Emotions will be high with Sean Payton’s return, and the Saints offense will click on all cylinders. Expect a shootout, but Sean Payton will keep his upperhand on the dirty birds.

PREDICTION: Saints 37   Falcons 34

You can catch the Saints every week on ESPN1420, a New Orleans Saints affiliate. Postgame interviews, highlights, and The Point After with Bobby Hebert will also be on the airwaves. Today’s coverage begins at noon.

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