New Oleans Saints Keys To The Game: Atlanta Falcons
By Keith Null
The Saints and the Falcons are set to square off for the first time this season on ESPN Monday Football in a pivotal NFC South showdown, the first inter-conference game for the 6-0 Saints this yeart (1st in NFC South).
New Orleans is coming off a huge come from behind victory over the Dolphins overcoming a 21 point deficit to win by 12 points 46-34, tying the biggest comeback in franchise history.
Atlanta however is coming off a thumping from the fluky Dallas Cowboys, 37-21, their second loss of the season which dropped them to 4-2 (2nd in NFC South).
Keys To The Game
New Orleans has found a winning formula this season — build a big lead, let the defense play aggressively, and run-run-run the ball late.
So far this combination has propelled them to a perfect 6-0 record and an offense that is averaging nearly 40 points a game, and against Atalanta the plan should be no different.
The Falcons rank a pedestrian 27th in the league against the pass, giving up 250.7 yards a game through the air. With such players as John Abraham (DE), Antoine Harris (S) and Christopher Owens (CB) listed as questionable the Saints will look to exploit Atlanta’s lack of depth in the secondary.
If Abraham is unable to play, the Falcons top pass rusher, the hapless birds have virtually zero pass rush. If given adequate time Brees will carve up the secondary in no time flat.
The passing game is critical to building a lead and the Saints league leading offense, powered by Pro Bowl quarter back Drew Brees, will look to establish the pass early to cement that very lead.
If the Saints can, or moreover when they jump out to a lead it will allow the Saints defense to blitz Matt Ryan increasing the chance of errant throws and turnovers.
Dallas was able to sack Ryan five times last week, entering the game he had only been sacked twice in five games, Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams surely took notice and will look to duplicate the Cowboy’s success.
So look for quarter back Drew Brees, wide receiver Marques Coslton and tight end Jeremy Shockey to torch the Atlanta secondary.
Defensively the Saints should show a variety of defensive schemes from their standard 4-3 to the 3-4 and a little 46 to keep Atlanta’s offense off balance.
New Orleans ranks 6th in the league in total run defense only giving 90 yards a contest. They have yet to surrender a one hundred yard rusher this season and should, with disciplined gap control, contain running back Michael Turner.
Let safety Darren Sharper lurk, that translates into letting him do what he does best, intercept passes. Currently Sharper leads the league in interceptions (6) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (3) and has displayed the uncanny ability to read quarter backs before the ball is thrown.
Give him the opportunity and he will find a way to get an interception or two.
Roddy White is a tall, fast receiver and will be paired up with the Saints emerging shut down corner Jabari Greer who leads the team in passes defensed.
Greer should play physical bump-n-run against White to knock the speedy receiver off his route, with safety help over the top New Orleans should contain Atlanta’s top receiving target with ease.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez needs to be “spyed’ on the whole game in an effort to minimize his impact in the passing game. Saints strong safety Roman Harper and weak side linebacker Scott Shanle cannot let him get by them for long gains down the field.
Saints 41, Atlanta 20
- Drew Brees will throw for over 300 yards and two or more touchdowns and he will not be sacked.
- Running backs Mik Bell and Pierre Thomas will each rush for a touchdown and Thomas will near or break 100 yards rushing.
- Marques Colston will have a monster game, 100 + receiving yards and one or more touchdowns.
- The Saints will not turn the ball over on offense but Sharper will pick Ryan at least once and the defense will force at least one fumble.
- Michael Turner will not rush for more than 75 yards and will not score a rushing touchdown.
- Roddy White will grab a touchdown pass as will tight end Tony Gonzalez but both will be held to less than 100 yards receiving.
- Ryan will be sacked at least three times.
- Jeremy Shockey will have over 75 receiving yards.
What are your predictions and what do you think the score will be, comment and let us all know.
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