Thursday night's big game all seems very familiar. We've been here before - albeit, more accurately, at another venue - when the New Orleans Saints ended the Atlanta Falcons' quest for an undefeated season by handing them their first loss, 31-27, in a thriller just three weeks ago.
Of course, déjà vu and divisional rivalries go hand-in-hand with the NFL schedule, but few head-to-heads are more perennially pivotal than this NFC South match-up, by far the most established biannual renewal of hostilities in the Deep South.
Even though some small things have changed since last these two sides met, the big picture remains the same at the Georgia Dome. Despite that defeat, the Falcons remain on track for the NFC's No.1 seeding which ensures home-field advantage for the play-offs, while the Saints are still getting back in the hunt for a wildcard berth in the postseason as they continue to recover from a slow start to the campaign (0-4).
However, while that recent reversal will stick in Atlanta's collective throat, the game with the greatest bearing this NFC showdown could be New Orleans' painful loss on Sunday night to the San Francisco 49ers. While there's certainly no shame in going down to the Niners - among the Super Bowl favourites - the Saints paid physical a heavy price in perhaps the most attritional match of the year so far.
Big hits and careering casualty-carts were the theme of the evening at the Superdome (Bryce Harris and top receiver Marques Colston joined Zach Grief and Charles Brown on the Saints' injury list) and the salient question is: how will they recover for a quick Thursday turnaround?
Happily, Colston has already passed all the relevant concussion exams, but the stiffest joints may well be on the line among Drew Brees' pass-protectors. The star quarterback normally enjoys all the time he needs (which admittedly isn't usually much) in the pocket, but he was sacked five times for a paltry 36 yards at the weekend, succumbing three times in an alarming fourth quarter. It was a worrying trend of declining defense that even left Brees to wonder: "I just hope everybody can wake up on Tuesday morning and shake the rust."
If the aches and pains have subsided, there's every reason for the Saints to be confident. Since 2009, Brees averages a whopping 314 passing yards (for 18 touchdowns) and a 6-1 record over the Falcons. Those median stats were more or less replicated during their latest topsy-turvy encounter where the Saints staved off a classic Falcons flurry with a goal-line stand.
So another game of fluctuating fortunes appears in store. But player-for-player, even away from home, the Saints match up well against the Falcons and this week's handicap (over a field-goal at 3.5pts) is a "big number" which tilts the scales in New Orleans' favour. This tie should instead be decided by the mistakes one side doesn't make - the Saints again committed too many turnovers against San Fran, while Atlanta's Matt Ryan can go from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Only an agreeable schedule has kept Atlanta on the path to the best record in the league and snaffling the top seed. In reality, considering the talented outfits residing elsewhere in the NFL, they are not even the leading Super Bowl contenders many would have you believe.
And their fiercest foe might be about to hand them another unwelcome reminder of that fact.
Back New Orleans Saints (+3.5 points) on the Match Point Spread @ 1.9110/11 or better
Back New Orleans Saints (+2.5 points) on the First-Half Point Spread @ 2.01/1 or better
Back D Colston to be First/Anytime Touchdown Scorer @ 9.08/1 or better