A battle between two NFC South powerhouses helps get the 2013 NFL season kicked off with a bang. The New Orleans Saints host the Atlanta Falcons in one of the biggest games of Week 1.
Those hoping for a defensive showdown should look elsewhere, because this upcoming contest will be full of offensive fireworks from both teams.
Matt Ryan leads a Falcons team that was one or two plays away from reaching Super Bowl XLVII, and his receiving corps is among the league's best.
Both teams believe they have the talent to win a championship, but only one will start the season on a positive note. Here's a quick look at this upcoming NFC South shootout, along with my final prediction.
When: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Betting Lines (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 55.5 pts.
- Spread: New Orleans (-3)
Falcons Injury Report (via NFL.com)
Saints Injury Report (via NFL.com)
How Will Rob Ryan's Defense Fare against Atlanta's Vaunted Offense?
Even without Payton calling plays for the Saints last year, Drew Brees led a potent offensive attack that scored 28.8 points per game. Now that Payton is back, New Orleans will be even better on that side of the ball.
That said, it won't matter how many points Brees and his offense put on the board if the team's defense can't stop opponents from doing the same thing.
This upcoming game against the Falcons is an early litmus test for Rob Ryan's defense.
After drafting players who fit into a 4-3 scheme for years, the Saints will run a 3-4 scheme this year. The team lacks the personnel necessary to fully realize Ryan's vision—especially when it comes to pass-rushers who can dominate off the edge.
As a result, Ryan is likely going to have a field day passing the ball to Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez.
Combined with the power-running game led by Steven Jackson, the Saints appear to be in too deep this weekend.
Touchdowns should be abundant in this game.
Both offenses can score on any given play, and both defenses struggle to pressure quarterbacks.
The biggest key in this game to me is that New Orleans doesn't have the continuity on defense to stop Atlanta from moving the ball at will.
Which team will win?
The Falcons feature a couple of young cornerbacks, but most of the starters have a strong understanding of their responsibilities in Year 2 of Mike Nolan's defensive scheme.
Atlanta will squeak out a win on the road, setting up a fascinating season in the NFC South
Falcons win, 38-35
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