In Week 2 of the NFL season, the New Orleans Saints once again played a thrilling nail-biter, this time against the San Fransisco 49ers.
They won 25-22, Garrett Hartley sealing the deal with a 37-yard field goal as time expired.
No matter how you look at it, the Saints are 2-0. In the long run, only that new addition to the "win" column really makes a difference.
Yes it was a close one, but they won.
After a tough Week 1 loss to Pittsburgh, Atlanta made a bold statement by dominating the Arizona Cardinals for four quarters of football in Week 2. They won 41-7.
In an opposite way to the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons commanded a total blowout victory over their opponent. But the only stat that really matters is that one in the win column.
On Sunday, these two NFC South rivals face off in what is bound to be an exciting game. Division rivalry games in the NFC South are almost always unpredictable, close, and exciting.
With momentum on their side, the Atlanta Falcons are entering the New Orleans Superdome, which is always full of energy.
Coming off a huge win last weekend, the Falcons are looking to defeat the Super Bowl Champions and take lead of the division.
The Saints are looking to stop all the speculation that Atlanta will conquer the division this year.
The big problem for Atlanta is the fact that they are facing the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome, which is hard for any NFL team, not to mention a division rival.
The "Who Dat" Nation always creates problems for opposing teams, particularly on offense. Players can not hear their own play call or snap count. They start to make mistakes, miss plays, and take penalties.
And the Superdome is one of the loudest stadiums in all of sports.
There is not too much to be said here.
The Dome will be rocking and rolling, and the Atlanta Falcons will definitely be irritated by the combined shouts of a sold-out Louisiana crowd.
The biggest problem for New Orleans will be the Atlanta ground attack. The Saints have struggled the first two weeks of this season in attempting to stop the run.
Atlanta dominated Arizona mainly through running the ball last week. Using a dual attack of Jason Snelling and Michael Turner, the Falcons had 221 yards rushing and two touchdowns. This may create huge problems for this Saints defensive unit.
First, Adrian Peterson had over 100 yards from scrimmage in Week 1. Then Frank Gore had nearly 200 yards from scrimmage in Week 2.
The Saints are ranked 19th in the NFL against the run. This matchup does not bode well for the Saints.
The Cardinals held Steven Jackson in check in their Week 1 matchup, allowing him only 80 yards rushing. But Atlanta ran for over 200 against the Cardinals.
All in all, the Saints have had trouble stopping the run. If they do not make adjustments on defense, this week will be no better.
The Falcons have a pretty good defensive line. I expect they will do a good job of stopping the Saints running game. An injured Reggie Bush doesn't help the Saints' cause, either.
This will create problems for the New Orleans running game. There may even be a lack of offensive balance, making the Saints more predictable.
Also, the Saints offensive line has not been doing too well in protecting Drew Brees. The Falcons will blitz Brees many times, and they may even take him out of his rhythm.
I expect the Falcons to win the line battle on defense. Unless the Saints make major adjustments in their offensive line, this could be the determining factor in the outcome of this game.
Even with a lackluster performance from his offensive line, I still believe Drew Brees will dissect this average Atlanta secondary.
The Falcons have some big holes in the secondary, and even an inexperienced quarterback such as Derek Anderson could find them a few times.
Yes, Drew Brees will probably be pushed out of the pocket multiple times in this game. But the same thing happened in the San Francisco game, yet he still acquired over 250 yards passing and two touchdowns, with a superb quarterback rating of 108.9.
Last week, Larry Fitzgerald broke through the Atlanta secondary and hauled in a couple of long receptions. I'm thinking Saints receivers do the same.
Even if the Saints running game is very minimal, I still expect Brees to pick up the slack. He has done it before, and he can do it again.
The Falcons can't put intense pressure on Brees and at the same time cover his numerous targets. There will be lackluster Falcons corner backs on seasoned Saints receivers.
Brees will find those receivers.
Ultimately, this will be a tough, close game between two teams who know each other inside and out. There will be no trick plays, no surprises.
This will be a game in which the team that executes better will win. There is no perfect game plan that will beat the other team. The winner will be the team who commits fewer mistakes and wins the turnover battle.
With that in mind, I have to take the New Orleans Saints. They have been unbelievable in stealing the ball from the opposing team. They are one of the greatest teams in football when it comes to creating turnovers.
They are a very good team at home, and the Superdome noise will be hitting ear-splitting levels.
Either way, this will be a very close game. NFC South matchups are always entertaining to watch. They are also very tough and very heated.
A fight or two may break out on the field Sunday.
I expect a relatively high scoring affair, with some great defensive plays, if that makes sense. Watch for the Saints to pull out on top.
Prediction: Saints 27, Falcons 24.