The Falcons will no longer see a familiar face in their rivalry with the New Orleans Saints.
Sean Payton is stepping down as Saints head coach, the NFL Network and others reported on Tuesday afternoon, after 15 seasons leading the NFC South franchise.
He led New Orleans to unprecedented heights, with a 152-89 record during the regular season. Payton helped New Orleans reach the playoffs nine times and led the Saints to a victory in Super Bowl XLIV.
Payton always enjoyed the playing the Falcons and often played up the rivalry. Overall, he had a 21-9 record against Atlanta, with his last victory as Saints head coach coming against the Falcons in the regular-season finale.
The NFC South will look a lot different without him. There's uncertainty around the Saints, with a new head coach coming and an unstable quarterback situation. The Panthers struggled at the end of last season. There's at least a bit uncertain at this stage whether Tom Brady will return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, though he could well end up back in the division for a third straight season.