The New Orleans Saints have had the Atlanta Falcons' number in recent seasons, and as the two NFC South rivals are set to meet in Week 1, linebacker Junior Galette says his team's goal is to extend that domination to the rest of the division.
The Saints are 11-3 against the Falcons since the 2006 season, when quarterback Drew Brees joined the franchise, and had won four straight against Atlanta before losing at the Georgia Dome last November. The Saints host the Falcons on Sunday at the Superdome in the regular-season opener for both teams.
Galette, set to start at one of the outside linebacker spots in the Saints' 3-4 defense, said Monday he had "no idea" why the teams' rivalry has been "pretty one-sided."
"Maybe they're scared to come in the Dome. But we beat them at home, at their house, too," Galette told reporters, according to NOLA.com, which posted video of his comments. "I don't really know what it is. I just feel like we want to dominate the division. Our main focus after we dominate the division is to do everything else, wing the NFC. But our main focus is to dominate the division. Atlanta is one of the better teams in the division."
The Saints finished 7-9 last season, when coach Sean Payton served a season-long suspension for his role in the team's bounty system. New Orleans, however, has finished 13-3 in two of the past four seasons (2009 and '11).
Galette said the Saints feel as if the Falcons don't respect them, adding extra motivation for New Orleans when the teams play.
"But we don't pay attention to that. We just want to buckle up on Sundays. ... Less talking, more playing," Galette told reporters.
Linebacker Curtis Lofton, who played for the Falcons from 2008 to 2011, has a rare perspective into the rivalry and told reporters Monday that Atlanta "held the Saints in very high regard" when he was on the team. Now that he's on the other side, his focus is on beating his former teammates.
"I mean, we don't like them, they don't like us. And I definitely don't like them. So I'm looking forward to playing them, and I can't wait 'til Sunday," he said, according to NOLA.com.