Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
You can expect a shootout here, new Saints defense and Rob Ryan notwithstanding.
New Orleans was the No. 1-ranked passing offense in 2012, averaging 334.2 yards per game, while the Atlanta Falcons were No. 8 and averaged 262 yards per game, via NFL.com.
Meanwhile the Saints allowed the third-most total yards (4,157), while the Falcons were better, ranking 13th, via NFL.com.
While it's hard to read too much into the preseason, the Saints saw an improvement against the pass, allowing just 217 yards per game. That said, there were times when the starting defense struggled as it transitioned to Ryan's 3-4 defense, and it generated just three turnovers.
On top of that, the Saints are without linebackers Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma (injured reserve), which could make the pass rush a little less effective.
When you look at the offense they face—with Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Ryan and Steven Jackson—it's not hard to think that early in the season, when the defense is still jelling, they will give up points.
The Saints win a lot of games by outscoring other offenses rather than preventing those offenses from getting going.
This week, they face a team which can run with them. Their defense is still under construction, while the Atlanta defense (allowing just 185.8 yards per game in the preseason according to NFL.com) is ready to go.
It's going to be a fun one to watch, but this game will belong to the defense which steps up last, and it's much easier to trust the Falcons in that regard.
My Pick: Falcons
B/R Consensus Pick: Saints (9-3)
ESPN Consensus Pick: Saints (8-6)
CBS Consensus Pick: Falcons (6-2)
USA Today Consensus Pick: Falcons (4-3)