Surging may be a bit premature to describe the sudden rise in play of the Saints, but the team has won three of four games since starting off 0-4.
Pre-Bounty Scandal, the Saints were the team to beat in the NFC South, but that has shifted this season. These Falcons are hard-nosed, equally as offensively talented as the Saints and looking to assert themselves at the top of the division by knocking off the Saints in their own house this weekend.
Look for a high-scoring affair in the bayou on a Sunday afternoon that’s sure to not disappoint.
Where: Mercedez-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
When: Sunday, November 11 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Watch: FOX and DIRECTV: 706
Live Stream: NFL.com
Listen: NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line: Atlanta (-3), according to Bovada
Atlanta Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
G Garret Reynolds
DT Jonathan Babineaux
K Matt Bryant
WR Kevin Cone
WR Drew Davis
WR Harry Douglas
DT Vance Walker
New Orleans Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
LB David Hawthorne
WR Joseph Morgan
WR Courtney Roby
RB Darren Sproles
What’s at Stake?
This is a must-win game for the hosting New Orleans Saints. A win would be their fourth in five games and slightly bring them back into distant contention for the NFC South lead. After starting out 0-4, they still have a considerable path ahead of them, but nothing is impossible.
A win for the Falcons would give them another divisional win and bring the team to a very impressive 9-0. That would be huge, considering four of the next five games for Atlanta will be against NFC South opponents.
Tampa Bay is a long shot at 4-4, but has been playing some hot football as of late and could take advantage of its remaining two games against the Falcons.
For the Falcons’ faithful, it’s better to win and remove all doubt than to leave the door open for a divisional contender who plays you each and every season. Shutting the door on the Saints this week should be the Falcons' primary focus before thinking about Tampa Bay in Week 12.
Atlanta WR “Take Your Pick”
The Saints’ defense is getting gouged by anyone and everyone that lines up against them. It’s gotten to epically bad proportions. Don’t let the win over the struggling Eagles fool you—the Falcons are no Eagles. They have the weapons and the efficiency at the quarterback position to slice up this Saints secondary.
That’s where Julio Jones and Roddy White come in. Last week, both of these standout wide receivers eclipsed 100 yards receiving, and I’m going to say that they’ll do it again in the dome in Louisiana. Not only that, but both will also haul in at least one touchdown.
New Orleans QB Drew Brees
While the Falcons are allowing nearly 100 yards per game on the ground, the running back by committee system seems to be in full effect in New Orleans. Couple that with the poor 81 yards per game rushing of the Saints, and this just isn’t an ideal week to take a risk on someone like Pierre Thomas or Mark Ingram.
If you have no other options, maybe. However, it’s more likely that Drew Brees will find a way to put up points, as he normally does. Brees is a must-start no matter what; you don’t need me to tell you that.
What They Are Saying
Not that this is surprising, but Peter Schrager of FOXSports.com is calling this Sunday afternoon NFC South matchup the game of the week. Schrager also brought up last year’s 45-16 Monday Night Football beatdown by the Saints as a motivator for the Falcons (via Twitter).
And it wouldn't kill if one of the Falcons said they were pissed at the way the Saints ran up the score last year. It's okay to show anger.— P. Schrager (@PSchrags) November 6, 2012
New Orleans Times-Picayune writer Jeff Duncan (via AtlantaFalcons.com) is reminded of the 2009 Super Bowl Saints team when looking at this year’s Falcons.
The defense remains something of a question mark, but it reminds me of the Saints’ unit of 2009. They weren’t dominant in any way, but they were opportunistic and played well in critical situations—red-zone, goal line, etc.—were good enough to win a title.
Key Matchup: Saints' Front Seven vs. Falcons' Running Game
The Atlanta Falcons have somewhat gotten away from the run at times this season due to the strength of the passing game. However, this week will be a prime opportunity for the team to get Michael Turner back on track. He hasn't played badly, but he has been inconsistent, and the team has abandoned the run as a result.
New Orleans is being absolutely annihilated in the running game, allowing a league-worst 176.5 yards per game on the ground.
If the Falcons can find a way to get Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers going on the ground, they’ll be able to keep the Saints’ pass rush at bay and let Matt Ryan work on the suspect Saints secondary. That will help them keep the high-powered Saints offense on the sidelines and give them the edge in time of possession.
As good as the New Orleans offense has been, it won’t be good enough to make up for its defense against the well-tuned Falcons and their Matt Ryan-led passing game. Michael Turner, as mentioned, should have a big day pounding the rock to control the clock and keep Drew Brees on the sideline.
Falcons 34, Saints 27