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Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints: Preview Of an NFC South Clash

Paul Mueller@@ThePaulMuellerSenior Analyst ISeptember 24, 2010

Matt Ryan is 10-0 when his passer rating is over 100.0.
Matt Ryan is 10-0 when his passer rating is over 100.0.Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

The Saints host the Falcons Sunday afternoon in a divisional battle of two teams with high hopes of winning the NFC South this year.

The Saints offense does not look as prolific as it did a year ago, despite starting 2-0, and the Falcons looked like two completely different teams in the first two weeks of the season.

The Saints will be without running back Reggie Bush for around six weeks, so Pierre Thomas is now the go-to back in Sean Payton’s offense.

Drew Brees has completed 74.3 percent of his passes through two games without a turnover, and will look to expose a young, banged-up Falcons secondary.

The Saints are ranked 21st in total offense.

Meanwhile, the Falcons come off a 41-7 rout of the Cardinals, who are not the Cardinals of the Kurt Warner era. Led by Derek Anderson, the Cardinals did not run a play from inside the Falcons’ 35-yard-line. Their only touchdown came on an 80-yard run by Tim Hightower.

Running back Michael Turner’s health may be in question, as he was taken out of last Sunday’s game with a groin injury, but backup Jason Snelling rode his 129 yards on 24 carries and three touchdowns (two rushing one receiving) to the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

If the Falcons want to improve to 2-1, they must score early and keep the ball out of Brees’ hands. 

Key Players

Michael Turner/Jason Snelling, ATL: Even if turner is healthy, look for a heavy dose of Snelling, who’s pass-catching ability provides another dimension for Matt Ryan to take advantage of. Both will need to run the ball effectively for the Falcons to control the clock and keep the ball away from Brees.

Pierre Thomas, NO: Brees will do his thing, as he always does. If Pierre Thomas can carry the load at running back and influence the play action passing game, expect to see the Saints offense in full force.

Matt Ryan is 10-0 when his passer rating is over 100.0, but he’ll need offensive balance to keep up with the Saints offense, who should break out any second now.

Drew Brees is 7-1 against the Falcons as a Saint, tossing 16 touchdowns and five interceptions.

The Falcons travel to New Orleans to face the defending Super Bowl champions Sunday at 1 p.m. EDT.

This article can also be found at www.footballnewsnow.com.

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