BreesPanini

When the NFL schedule came out long ago, this Thursday’s NFC South battle between the Falcons and Saints was one of the games circled as a huge test for Matt Ryan’s squad on its path to New York. Alas, injuries and inconsistent play by the offense coupled with a sieve-like defense have sent the Mike Smith-led Falcons spiraling to the basement of the NFC South. Meanwhile, the Saints have rebounded to charge toward the top of the NFC behind the return of Sean Payton and a defense that has been rejuvenated under coordinator Rob Ryan.

I revved up the yelling machine to preview the Thursday night tilt, a grand start to Week 12 for FOXSports.com.