NEW ORLEANS – The Falcons have finally reached that point for a 5-9 football team that usually arrives long before 5-9 does: If they lose, they're done.
They face NFC South rival New Orleans (6-8), which leads Carolina (5-8-1) by a half-game and the Falcons by a game with two to go. The Falcons can win the division if they win their next two games against the Saints and Carolina (next week at the Georgia Dome). They're eliminated with a loss but can remain alive with a tie.
Wide receiver Julio Jones is active for the Falcons after missing last week's game against Pittsburgh and sitting out all week with a hip injury. But logic suggests he's not at full strength so it remains to be seen how effective he will be.
Falcons-Saints games tend to be unpredictable. The only unlikely thing today is a low-scoring game. These are the two worst defensive teams in the league. The Falcons rank 32nd (409.9 yards), the Saints 31st (390.1). In points allowed, the Falcons rank 28th (26.4), the Saints 29th (26.7).
A few other notables:
-- Right guard Jon Asamoah (back) is out with a back injury. Gabe Carimi will start.
-- The Falcons, who won the season opener over the Saints, haven’t swept a season series from New Orleans since 2005, the year the Saints’ home game was in San Antonio (because of Hurricane Katrina). The Falcons haven't swept a season series with a win in the Superdome since 2002.
-- The Saints strangely have lost four straight home games after winning 20 in a row.