The Saints defense has been an inconsistent unit this season. At times they have appeared dominate, racking up the sacks while keeping opposing offenses off-balance, but they have also been run all over (literally) by several teams and have given up more than 20 points in five of nine games this year.
New Orleans defense is ranked 15th in the league overall, surrendering on average 348 yards a game. Against the pass they are 14th (228 yards per game) and the run are 17th (119 yards per game).
Last week the defense bounced against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a rough week prior against the Rams.
Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman was held in check after managing only one tochdown pass, which turned out to be Tampa’s only touchdown of the day, another victory for the defense.
LeGarrette Blount was also corralled — accounting for only 72 yards rushing.
But the Saints face a much tougher test against the Atlanta Falcons in another key NFC South showdown this Sunday
The Falcons are riding a three-game winning streak and have prevailed in four of five games since losing two of three at the start of the season.
Running back Michael Turner has played a large role in the Falcons three-game win streak, rushing for 332 yards and three touchdowns during the wins.
Turner is not the Saints primary concern though, it’s Atlanta’s combinations of receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Jones posted his third 100-yard receiving game of the season with a career best 131 yards and two touchdowns on just three receptions last week against the Colts.
White has enjoyed enormous success since being paired with Matt Ryan. This season he has caught 43 passes for 501 yards and three touchdowns passes.
As good as White has been though, he is still tops in the league when it comes to drops.
The Saints secondary is a bit banged up. Two of the Saints top corner’s are currently questionable to face the Falcons.
Tracy Porter was carted off the field with a neck injury he suffered during the second play of the game against the Buccaneers.
He went in low and hard on receiver Mike Williams, and while he broke up the play up he jammed his neck somehow.
He laid on the turf for quite a while and it did appear to be a severe injury at the time.
He has returned to practice in a limited capacity after no significant damage was found.
Patrick Robinson has not practiced this week at all with an apparent stomach illness. He has started five games for the Saints this season and has two interceptions.
At times defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has preferred starting Robinson alongside Jabari Greer instead of Porter.
Obviously if both are out then Leigh Torrence would get the start, and rookie Johnny Patrick would assume the nickel role.