Atlanta, GA - The undefeated New Orleans Saints showed plenty of determination in their last game, much as they did in their first meeting with the Atlanta Falcons, whose injuries could be too much to overcome when the NFC South rivals meet again Sunday.
New Orleans (12-0) clinched the division title and tied a franchise record for wins in a season with a wild comeback last week, beating Washington 33-30 in overtime.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Saints –10.5 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on the Saints –10.5 (View NFL bet percentages).
"I've never been a part of anything so great," Saints running back Mike Bell said.
The Saints lost five games by three points or fewer last season. This year's team has been much different, posting two significant comeback victories on the road.
The Saints rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat Miami 46-34 in Week 7, and their latest victory was even more exhilarating.
After Washington's Shaun Suisham missed a 23-yard field goal with under two minutes to play, New Orleans' Drew Brees tied the game less than a minute later with a 53-yard touchdown pass. Garrett Hartley won it with an 18-yard field goal in OT.
The Saints never led until Hartley's kick in a game filled with momentum-changing moments. New Orleans needed a replay reversal to get a fumble called on Washington's Mike Sellers that set up the winning drive.
Late in the first half, a Saints punt hit Redskins cornerback Kevin Barnes on the back and New Orleans recovered. A few plays later, Brees was intercepted by Kareem Moore, but New Orleans receiver Robert Meachem stripped the ball and ran for a TD.
"We find a way to win," Bell said. "That's what good teams do, right?"
The Saints overcame four turnovers to beat Atlanta 35-27 on Nov. 2. Brees was intercepted and lost a fumble, but passed for 308 yards and two scores.
Pierre Thomas lost a fumble for New Orleans, but also scored two touchdowns as the Saints rushed for 146 yards.
New Orleans, though, struggled to run the ball versus Washington, finishing with a season-low 55 yards on the ground.
Without Michael Turner, Atlanta (6-6) was held to 61 yards rushing in a 34-7 loss to Philadelphia last Sunday. Turner was one of six offensive starters, including quarterback Matt Ryan, to miss time in that matchup as the Falcons lost for the third time in four games.
The worst defeat in Mike Smith's two years as coach left Atlanta on the fringe of the wild-card race.
"We've just got to get everybody together and keep practicing and go out there and try to fight our way to a victory," receiver Roddy White said. "Man, hopefully we get some of our guys back this week and get everything back together and try to win us a game."
Atlanta may have a tough time doing so without Ryan, who protected his turf toe injury by wearing a walking boot on the sideline. Ryan, injured in a 20-17 win over Tampa Bay on Nov. 29, is expected to practice this week.
He was picked off three times in the Nov. 2 matchup with the Saints.
If Ryan can't play, Chris Redman will make his second straight start. He threw two interceptions and had one returned for a TD against the Eagles.
Turner's status is also uncertain after hurting his ankle against the Buccaneers. Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood split time against Philadelphia, combining for 53 yards on 21 carries.
Receiver Michael Jenkins and offensive linemen Sam Baker and Harvey Dahl also sat out for the Falcons last week. Center Todd McClure left with a right knee injury.
"We've got an injury list right now that is pretty long," Smith said.
Posted: 12/9/09 5:30PM ET