New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons: Can We Really Call It a Rivalry Anymore?

Jason BernosContributor IINovember 28, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 11:   Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints yells as he is introduced before playing the Atlanta Falcons at The Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 11, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Here comes "Rivalry Week" in New Orleans, with the Atlanta Falcons lined up to play the Black and Gold this Thursday night.

But let's face it, Who Dat Nation, are they really our rivals anymore?

To me, a rivalry is a continuous back-and-forth between teams as it pertains to wins and losses. Maybe there would be a three- or four-game stretch of wins for teams on either side, but overall, it is a tit-for-tat fight between rivals.

The Falcons-Saints "rivalry" has been very one-sided lately, and by "lately," I mean since 2000. 

Since that year, the Saints have won 17-out-of-25 games versus their divisional opponent in Georgia. If you take out the Hurricane Katrina season of 2005 when Atlanta swept a team that had more pressing needs than football, that makes it even more dominating for the boys in black and gold.

Everyone knows the "11-2 in last 13 games" stat, but I'll give you an even better one.

Since 2000, the Saints have scored less than 20 points in only two games versus the Falcons, and only one of those was a loss. (During the Katrina season, mind you.)

That stat could mean bad news for an Atlanta team that has struggled offensively lately against a very improved Saints defense, because we know, with both Falcons starting corners possibly out, that Brees and co. will put up points.

There is one thing that this divisional "doormat" has been good at since 2006.

Getting "swept."

The Saints have "swept" both games in a year four times in that six-year stretch.

Now, I know that there is a hate for the Falcons in Who Dat Nation that can not be explained, but that doesn't give them the right to be our rival.

You have to earn that moniker.

Until then, they will always be the Saints' "little brothers," as Scott Shanle so affectionately said after New Orleans' win over Atlanta earlier in the year.

You want a new "rival," Who Dat Nation?

Look no further than Tampa Bay or Carolina.

Doesn't matter which one you pick, it's always a see-saw battle, year-in and year-out, for wins. The Saints are 6-7 versus the Panthers since '06 and 7-6 versus the Buccaneers in that same time.

At least when those teams lose to New Orleans, they own up to it. Most of the Falcons players, Roddy White in particular, have about as much class as a pouty, eight-year-old after a loss.

They can't give the Saints credit on anything, saying that Atlanta "gave" them the game. 

You know what I say to that?

I hope they give the Saints credit when they sweep those dirty-bird doormats for the fifth time in seven years on Thursday night.