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Barry Hirstius

PUT. THEM. AWAY. Tonight, Saints Can Take the “Kill Shot” at the Dirty Birds

In this modern age of political correctness, the term "kill shot" is not one that you'd often put alongside the New Orleans Saints NFL football team all too often.

But tonight when the Saints play on NBC Thursday Night Football at Atlanta's new indoor Mercedes-Benz Stadium against their hated arch-rivals the Atlanta Falcons beginning at 7:30 p.m. Central standard time, a "kill shot" is exactly what the Saints will be shooting for.

The (9-3) Saints not only are currently leading the NFC South Division with 4 games remaining, but they also currently lead 3rd place Atlanta (7-5) — who won the division last season — by 2 games.

Which means of course that if the Saints can beat Atlanta tonight, they'd lead them by 3 games with only 3 games left in the season, essentially ending ANY slim chance that the Falcons would have of coming back to win the division and also force them into an even harder time of even making the Playoffs as the final Wild Card in the conference.

In other words: the Saints have a chance tonight to PUT THEM AWAY.

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

However, it won't be easy.

That's because on only 3 days rest, Thursday Night games more often times than not, tend to favor the home team; which obviously the Falcons are in this instance.

But then again, it's not an impossible task by any means.

As New Orleans Advocate writer Nick Underhill noted yesterday: neither team is going to be able to get too complex with the things they will look to accomplish due to the short week.

Typically Underhill says, Thursday Night games feature a stripped down plan. That could be a good thing tonight for the Saints.

The running game and defense for both teams often play well on Thursday Nights, and as Underhill observes:

The Saints are strong in BOTH areas, and potentially it could benefit them the most.

He adds that playing good defense and running well doesn’t require a great amount of scheming.

These are accomplishable goals even when things are stripped down on these special occasions, and the simple fact of the matter is that the Saints do both of those things — running the ball and play defense — well.

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Or at least they have for 9 of the past 10 weeks, anyway.

Can they do it yet again TONIGHT, is the million dollar question.

We do know this much: you can fully expect the Falcons to come out firing with BOTH BARRELS

Not only because they're playing at home in front of their own fans, but also because it's an NFC South / rivalry game and maybe most important of all:

The Falcons are in DESPERATION MODE.

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

A loss to the Saints tonight potentially will kill any realistic shot that the Falcons have of getting into the Playoffs, especially with teams like Carolina and Seattle (the current 2 Wild Card teams if the season ended today) right ahead of them and other (6-6) teams like Dallas, Detroit, and Green Bay, all still alive right behind them.

So Atlanta can ill afford to lose this game tonight, or else they'll have to face the very real possibility of MISSING the Playoffs just 10 months after they played in the Super Bowl.

That's a bitter pill for any NFL team to swallow, and if the Falcons have any pride whatsoever (and you can bet that they do), they'll come into tonight's game ready to "let it all hang out".

For the Saints, it will be a simple matter of surviving the initial onslaught, and then somehow managing to find a way to keep the score just close enough, to where they can be within striking distance of pulling out a win.

While a dominant performance by New Orleans tonight would be a most welcome sight for Saints fans, that's not what you should expect.

This game is likely to be the typical "barn-burner" that some of these Saints-Falcons rivalry games have been over the years. and it's just hard to envision it turning out to be lopsided in either team's favor.

The bottom line for the Saints tonight is simple: which is that no matter HOW you get it done, just make sure it gets done.

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

Find some kind of a way — regardless of however you have to go about doing it — to reach out and grab an opportunity to finally PUT. THEM. AWAY.

And then when you have them right where you want them: take the "kill shot"........

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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