The Saints are playing the Falcons this week, and the "trash-talking" between the two arch-rival fan-bases on a variety of Social Media platforms is already about to reach a fever-pitch ahead of Sunday's clash at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta.
But one narrative out there that's been a ongoing source of frustration for 'Who Dats': the insinuation by Falcons fans that Atlanta QB Matt Ryan (formerly known by his original nickname "Matty Ice") has been a much better QB in recent seasons than Saints QB and future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.
So far with only 2 games played in this current new season however, Brees thus far has been the better of the two, completing 65 passes out of 80 attempts for 682 passing yards along with 5 TD passes and no interceptions; and an average of 8.5 yards per pass for a completion percentage of 81.3%.
In comparison, Ryan has completed 44 passes out of 71 attempts for 523 passing yards along with 2 TD passes and 2 interceptions; and an average of 7.4 yards per pass for a completion percentage of 62.0%.
Additionally, a simple "Google search" would clearly reveal to Falcons fans that Brees actually was the better quarterback statistically last season as well; especially in the categories that mattered the most.
Last season, Brees led his team to an 11-win season and a NFC South Division Championship, while Ryan led his team to 10 wins and a Wild Card Playoff spot.
Brees went 386 of 536 for and had 4,334 passing yards, while Ryan was was 342 out of 529 and had 4,095 passing yards. Brees threw for a total of 23 TD passes, while Ryan had 20 of them. Brees also averaged 8.1 yards per pass play, while Ryan averaged 7.7.
Brees was also sacked less (20 sacks to Ryan's 24) and intercepted less (8 INT's compared to Ryan’s 12) but perhaps most importantly of all: at age 39 and six years older than the 33-year old Ryan, broke the NFL's all-time completion percentage rate with a 72.0 rating, compared to Ryan's completion percentage of 64.7.
Even when you compare how the 2 QB's have fared against each other within the rivalry, Brees has had the upper hand, with a (16-9) win-loss record in his career vs. the Falcons. By comparison: Ryan is only (8-11) vs. the Saints all-time.
But certainly there has to be one category that Ryan leads Brees in, and it's the most obvious one: which is that more often times than not, Ryan (unfortunately for Falcons fans) has clearly "choked" in a handful of critical situations for the Falcons, most notably a year and a half ago in Atlanta's overtime loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI — while Brees for the most part has been a "clutch" performer for the Black and Gold.
While Ryan did manage to lead his team to a 31-24 come-from-behind win over Carolina last weekend, the stigma for Ryan still remains that he is what's referred to by old sports writers like me as a "choke artist".
As noted by The Guardian NFL Lead Writer Les Carpenter: the knock on Ryan has always been that he crumbles in critical moments.
He had only won one playoff game in five attempts before the Falcons made it all the way to Super Bowl LI two seasons ago; and as Carpenter notes: even as Atlanta rolled to the Super Bowl that year, there was still always an occasional red flag surrounding "Matty Ice".
That red flag would have come in handy for Atlanta, had they received it prior to their 28-3 lead late in the 3rd quarter of that now-infamous game for the most ardently loyal of Falcons supporters.
Since that time, Falcons fans have been constantly reminded by the fact that "Matty Ice" and company managed to squander a 25 point lead in that contest, with 2 minutes and 12 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Long story short: Ryan and the Falcons were only 17 minutes away from winning their first ever World Championship in their team's 53-year history — but instead: that monumental collapse of epic proportions has since been recognized in NFL and Professional Sports history as one the BIGGEST "CHOKE JOBS" EVER.
The ultimate "measuring stick" of success for any NFL QB is WINNING a World Championship; which Brees has done (albeit over 8 and a half years ago) when the Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
For Brees, getting back to the Super Bowl and winning it for a 2nd time, is what clearly drives him and motivates him to continue playing at age 39.
It's been said that Brees could have already won MULTIPLE Super Bowls by now, had the Saints defense not have been as bad as it had been for the past several years prior to last season; and that's probably much closer to the truth than it is further away from fiction.
But getting there — much less winning it — is the hard part.
Both men have done so.
But only one of them walked away with the sport of Pro Football's biggest prize.
So as the Saints prepare to face the Falcons this Sunday in downtown Atlanta, the "trash talking" will undoubtedly reach a "fever pitch" when the two teams and their passionate fan-bases meet inside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
But if Falcons fans are still delusional enough to believe that their QB is actually better than the one in Black and Gold and who will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio on the 1st voting ballot in a few years from now, they likely are going to be sorely disappointed at some point, given Ryan's recent history.