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Big Brees-y: Saints blow away Falcons, set up possible return in playoffs

Falcons Nation will blame the pass coverage, which reeked against the Saints -- never worse than at the end, when New Orleans ran up the score to get Drew Brees a record for the ages.

But so does most everyone else's secondary get strafed by Brees, so it is not a fatal sign so long as the Falcons does not cross paths with N'awlins in the playoffs.

Except, they might. If Detroit beats Green Bay, which likely will rest starters in a game that has no bearing on the Packers' playoff slot, the Falcons seem stuck at a No. 6 seed in the NFC bracket -- and an opener back in the Big Easy.

Should the Packers win, Atlanta would bubble up at No. 5 by beating Tampa Bay at home -- as certain an outcome as happens in the NFL.

Nor are the The Saints locked in. They would rise to No. 2 by defeating Carolina and St. Louis beating San Francisco, the next-closest sure thing, though New Orleans coach Sean Payton appeared unaware of the situation Tuesday by saying he might sit Brees. (Or maybe he gives the Rams a snowball's chance.)

Payton took the mandatory heat for calling one pass play after another in a 45-16 game so Brees could undo Dan Marino's record for single-season passing yards.

Had this been the Saints' season finale, his rub-it-in approach would not have been debatable. That Brees has another game -- at home, no less -- opened the coach to criticism that he acknowledged.

Some Falcons players expressed a yearning to return to the Superdome for the playoffs. Though their words Payton plenty of slack, their innards might have been cursing him. Coach Mike Smith hid whatever feelings he had.

If the Dirty Birds are peeved, a wish to double back to New Orleans in two weeks is understandable. But this is a clear case of: Be careful what you wish for. Drawing the Giants or Cowboys, whoever wins Sunday night, is infinitely more preferable.

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