Nov 21, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson (39) runs the ball in the first half against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints' Opposition Intel: Atlanta Falcons

I recently teamed up with Sam Kweon, managing editor of Blogging Dirty, to exchange several questions around the upcoming matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. I did my best to pick his brain on the Falcons, and in turn, he did the same. Enjoy!

1. There’s a ton of ‘bad blood’ between these two clubs. Do you think this is one of the premier rivalries in the league? What is it about this matchup that everyone wants to circle on their calendars and watch?

The Falcons and Saints rivalry is sort of like the Chargers and Raiders. Let’s be honest, the Saints are a better team then the Falcons right now, but that doesn’t mean the Dirty Birds can’t pull off a win. Also, I think another reason why these two are so hateful to each other is, first obviously because they are in the same divisions, but they have a similar team, which is why so many fans love watching these two go at it, why not? Matt Ryan and Drew Brees match up well, and they ALWAYS seem to get in fights.

2. Steven Jackson had a very disappointing season in 2013. Do you believe he’ll get things back on track this season? How do you think a healthy Julio Jones changes things for Matt Ryan and company?

Steven Jackson is on the decline. Sorry to my fellow writers and fans, but I don’t think Jackson will get many carries this year. There’s just no reason to give him a lot. There is Jacquizz Rodgers who had an impressive preseason, Devonta Freeman who seems like he is going to be an impactful rookie, and Antone Smith who averaged 29 yards a carry last season, yes I said 29. So to answer your question, no I don’t think Jackson will get back on track.

3. Mike Smith had his worst coaching season since joining the Falcons in 2008. Do you believe there’s added pressure on Mike Smith to win this year? Is he on the hot seat? Does he have to beat the Saints?

No. Mike Smith is a fantastic coach, and he is not in any way on the hot seat. He built this team from the ground up, and even if does rack up only 3 wins in 2014, he will still be the head coach. Absolutely not, he does not have to beat the Saints. The Saints are a very tough team, and we will give them a fight, but no he does not.

4. The loss of Tony Gonzalez and many players due to injury cause concern for the Falcons, what’s your take on how the team will fare? Are you concerned with the offensive line or linebacker position more?

Oh man, I don’t care about Tony Gonzalez being gone. Not to disrespect him, but he has screwed over the Falcons many times in the offseason this year. I think the team will be a lot better than what other fans think. Listen, if you have Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White there is no way the team is just “bad.” I am in no way concerned with the offensive line, but I am very concerned with the defensive lineman. They hoped Rashede Hageman, the 2nd round pick of the 2014 NFL draft, can do something impactful, but Hard Knocks and the games show that he is not ready. They have Paul Soliai, who is good, but Tyson Jackson is not at his natural position. Jackson should be at defensive end, but Mike Smith just forced the kid in the trenches…

5. Alright, there’s a 13-3 Saints record rumor floating around since 2006, what’s your final prediction? Is it close? Do we go down to the final drive again?

The Falcons vs Saints… Will go down to the final drive. To be honest, it is too close for me to say that either team is going to win it, but Saints fans you should really watch out. This is not the same team from last season…..

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Tags: Atlanta Falcons New Orleans Saints

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