x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Falcons 'familiar' with what needs to be done to make NFL play-offs

"We control what we can control," said Mike Smith, the Atlanta coach, ahead of their match against the New Orleans Saints on Monday. "It's obvious our guys are familiar with the scenarios."

The New Orleans Saints will try to wrap up the NFC South title and the Atlanta Falcons will try to lock down a play-off spot when the teams meet on Monday night.

The Saints (11-3) have a two-game lead over the Falcons (9-5) in the division. The Saints, who have clinched a post-season berth, would bolster their plans for a home game in the play-offs by winning in their home stadium.

The Falcons could secure a play-offs place and preserve their hopes of winning the division by beating the Saints. If the Falcons win their last two regular-season games and the Saints lose two straight, Atlanta would win the NFC South by having a better record against division teams.

"We control what we can control," said Mike Smith, the Falcons coach. "It's obvious our guys are familiar with the scenarios."

The Saints are looking to beat the San Francisco 49ers to the No 2 seed in the NFC. With that honour comes a first-round bye and home-field in the second round.

"The sky's the limit and that's where we're trying to get to," the Saints safety Roman Harper said. "Our goal is nothing less than a victory in the Super Bowl, and right now we just trying to stay focused and take it one step at a time."

The Falcons, who won on Thursday and have extra time to prepare for the Saints, saw their wild-card hopes fortified on Sunday when the Giants and Bears each lost. Smith said he will not have to talk to his players about what is on the line in New Orleans. "We're not going to change our preparation, how we prepare," he said. "We try to be as steady as we can and just continue to move forward like we have all season."

* Agencies