Saints vs. Falcons: 10 Key Questions For Monday Night Football

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IDecember 27, 2010

Saints vs. Falcons: 10 Key Questions For Monday Night Football

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    NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Jason Snelling #44 of the Atlanta Falcons is tackled by Malcom Jenkins #27 and Jabari Greer #33 of the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on September 26, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Falcons defeated the Sa
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Saints versus Falcons is bound to be a fantastic finale to a spectacular Monday Night Football season. 

    This game has significant implications for how the NFC playoff picture will shake out and the Falcons can clinch the NFC South with a victory. 

    It should have its usual offensive-flair, timely defense and extremely loud fans that we've come to love in this new-age, dome-team rivalry. 

    Here are the biggest questions going into this colossal contest...

How Will The Saints Cover Roddy White?

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    SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 19:  Wide receiver Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons runs a pass route against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on December 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Roddy White leads the NFC in targets (166) and receptions (106). 

    He averages nearly 92 yards per game and has scored eight touchdowns thus far. 

    Safe to say he's a tough cover. 

    The Falcons receivers aren't extremely dangerous outside of White, but even with double coverage White has been very consistent this year. 

Can Drew Brees Keep The Ball Away From The Falcons Secondary

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    BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 19:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints passes against the Baltimore Ravens  at M&T Bank Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens lead the Saints at the half 21-14. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
    Larry French/Getty Images

    Drew Brees threw 31 touchdowns this year, but he's also tossed 19 interceptions. 

    Very un-Brees-like. 

    He's thrown an interception in every game since Week 5. 

How Will The Saints Cover Tony Gonzalez

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 12:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates with teammate Tony Gonzalez #88 after a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    We all know what a good tight end can mean to an offense and Gonzalez is still one of the league's best. 

    However, Gonzo only has 11 catches in his last two games and hasn't totaled more than 38 receiving yards. 

    He's still a threat, but maybe not as fearsome as he used to be. 

How Will The Falcons Cover The Saints Deep Receiving Corp

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    BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 19:  Marques Colston #12 of the New Orleans Saints runs the ball while being defended by Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens  at M&T Bank Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Saints 30-24. (
    Larry French/Getty Images

    Marques Colston leads the team with 1002 yards, but Lance Moore's eight touchdowns are a team high. 

    Don't forget Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Jimmy Graham and Jeremy Shockey. 

    Drew Brees loves to spread it around and that's what makes the Saints so hard to defend against. 

How Will The Falcons Use Michael Turner and Can The Saints Stop Him

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    SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 19:  Running back Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons rushes against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on December 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    For as much publicity the Falcons pass offense gets, their staple is pounding the rock with Michael Turner. 

    The Saints are 20th in the NFL in stopping the run and they'll get a heavy dose of Turner tonight. 

    It won't be easy. 

Can The Saints Pass Rush Get To Matt Ryan?

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    NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 21:  Jonathan Vilma #51 of the New Orleans Saints against the Seattle Seahawks at Louisiana Superdome on November 21, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Matt Ryan stands behind one of the most solid offensive lines in the NFL and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey keeps Ryan on the move to limit his takedowns. 

    The Saints' 29 sacks rank New Orleans 20th in the NFL, but Gregg Williams dials up very creative blitz packages for his linebackers. 

    Should be a fun battle to watch. 

Can The Saints Protect Drew Brees?

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    ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11:  John Abraham #55 of the Atlanta Falcons pressures quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Falcons only have 27 sacks on the year and Drew Brees is remarkable at getting the ball out of his hands. 

    Whether Atlanta can get to Brees or not will be a major factor in this game. 

Will Matt Ryan Ever Lose at Home?

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    SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 19:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons passes against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on December 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Matt Ryan has only lost at home once. 

    He always seems to get it done in crunch time especially under the Georgia Dome's roof. 

    Will this change tonight?

Can The Saints Establish Some Type Of Run Game

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    CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 05:  Chris Ivory #29 of the New Orleans Saints runs with the ball during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Saints won 34-30.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Gett
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    It's been a running back carousel for the Saints this season because of injuries and inconsistent play, but if the Saints want to be successful, they need to establish the run to keep the Falcons defense honest. 

    The Saints have rushed for the 26th most rush yards this year, and their 334 attempts are 30th in the league. 

    When they run well, they're nearly impossible to beat. 

Who Will Win The Turnover Battle?

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    SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 19:  Brent Grimes #20 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates after making an interception against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on December 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. The Falcons defeated the Seahawks 34-18. (Photo by Otto Gr
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    After leading the NFL in interceptions last year, the Saints defense only has nine picks this year. 

    Brent Grimes and the Falcons on the other hand, are fifth in the NFL with 20 aerial turnovers. 

    Don't sleep on the Falcons though, they've forced 22 fumbles and have recovered 12 of them.