ATLANTA, GA (WAFB) - The New Orleans Saints didn't get any help on Sunday, so the defending Super Bowl champions will have to win at least one of their last two games in order to make the playoffs.
The 'Who Dats' face the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta Monday night. The Falcons beat the Saints in the first matchup this season 27-24 in overtime. Atlanta sports a 12-2 record, the best in the NFC South. The Saints are second in the conference at 10-4.
New Orleans takes on Atlanta and Tampa Bay for the final two games and has to beat one of those teams to earn a spot into the post-season because the Seattle Seahawks couldn't stop the Bucs on Sunday.
However, if the Saints want to compete like a playoff team they'll need to improve from last week's 30-24 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The biggest sore spot was their run defense, which allowed the Ravens to rush for over 200 yards. Ray Rice ran wild for 153 yards and one touchdown.
Some people would be nervous because that defense will face another prolific running back in Michael Turner. Atlanta has the No. 7 ranked rushing offense in the NFL.
Quarterback Drew Brees isn't putting everything on the defense, as he knows the Saints offense also needs to make some significant strides.
"With the guys that we have, we have a prideful group," Brees said. "We've got a group of guys who aren't going to sit back on our royals and always striving to get better. So, regardless of whether we win or lose, there's always areas where we know we can get better and we're going to constantly try to improve."
He said this is the time for the Saints to prove they are still a championship-caliber team. They will have to perform on the field just to get back into the playoffs, but Brees sounds like he wouldn't have it any other way.
"You always say, 'Hey, the great teams don't lose two in a row.' You find a way to respond, come back play better the next week."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN. Atlanta has already clinched a playoff spot and will crowned NFC South champs with a win.
Only two other teams in the NFC have punched tickets to the post-season. The Chicago Bears have won the NFC North and the Philadelphia Eagles sit atop the NFC East.
The matchup next week between the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks will decide the NFC West champion.
Green Bay holds the final playoff spot and tiebreaker over the Giants and Bucs.
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