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Drew Brees vs. The Falcons - By The Numbers

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If the Falcons want to come away from their Week 1 matchup against the Saints with a win, Atlanta's young corners must show they can hang in against QB Drew Brees and his high-powered offense while the defensive line will have to bring the heat. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.
If the Falcons want to come away from their Week 1 matchup against the Saints with a win, Atlanta's young corners must show they can hang in against QB Drew Brees and his high-powered offense while the defensive line will have to bring the heat. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.

There are better places to open up a season in the NFL than the Super Dome in New Orleans. The 2013 Atlanta Falcons would have been more than happy to open up their season with a trip to Buffalo to play a rookie quarterback or by staying at home and welcoming in a putrid New York Jets team. While those games are still on the schedule, the Falcons will open up their season with Pro Bowl QB Drew Brees and the Saints in New Orleans. Tough break fellas.

Since 2008 when the Falcons became relevant again, Brees has been their primary nemesis. Most Falcons fans feel like beating the Saints means keeping Brees from going off, or keeping him contained to an average game. But what do the numbers say? As the Falcons prepare for their Sunday matchup, the numbers may surprise you.

In the Falcons 10 matchups with the Saints since 2008, the Saints and their outstanding signal caller are 7-3 in those games. That includes a record of 4-1 in the Super Dome. Obviously, the Falcons have fared a little better at home, having beaten Brees two times in five tries.

Let’s dig a little deeper though, shall we? The perception that stopping Brees is the key to a victory for the Falcons is validated by seven Brees performances. In the seven matchups in which Brees has had a quarterback rating of 96 or better against the Falcons, the Saints are 6-1. The only blemish came in 2010 when the Falcons won an overtime game 27-24. In that game, Brees posted a quarterback rating of 111.7. For the Falcons this Sunday, Brees having an outstanding game is not a recipe for victory.

When Brees has been held to ordinary games by his standards, the Falcons have managed a 1-2 record against the Saints in those matchups. The best it has ever been was a matchup last November in Atlanta in which the Falcons intercepted five passes from Brees, and won while holding him to a quarterback rating of 37.6. However, Brees won a matchup in 2010 when he posted a rating of 77.1. What this says is that the Falcons can win by having Brees play an awful game.

One might have the impression from these numbers that Brees always performs extremely well against the Falcons. Interestingly, that is just not the case. Perhaps it speaks to the greatness of Brees, but the Falcons have actually done a solid job against him relative to the rest of the NFL in three of the past five seasons. Here is a breakdown of how Brees has performed against the Falcons vs. the rest of the league.

2008

Brees QB Rating vs. Falcons:            78.6                            

Brees QB Rating vs. rest of league:  99.1

2009

Brees QB Rating vs. Falcons:            117.6                          

Brees QB Rating vs. rest of league:  108.3

2010

Brees QB Rating vs. Falcons:            92.5                            

Brees QB Rating vs. rest of league:  90.6

2011

Brees QB Rating vs. Falcons:            102.1                          

Brees QB Rating vs. rest of league:  111.8

2012

Brees QB Rating vs. Falcons:              66.0                            

Brees QB Rating vs. rest of league:  100.6

Taking this all in, the Falcons will have a tough time beating the Saints in the Super Dome. Complicating matters will be the rookie cornerbacks that the Falcons will have to start and play in their sub-packages. Based on the recent history of this rivalry, the Falcons will have to win a shootout while keeping Brees from having a great season opener if they wish to claim victory in Week 1.