Nov 21, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) calls a block in the second half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Saints won 17-13. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Game 1: ‘Dirty Bird Beatdown’
I’m absolutely thrilled to bring my back Keys to the Game segment, Who Dat Nation! Our patience has paid off, as it’s finally Week One! We will soon have football on Sundays until mid February! New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons, how could you start the year any better? This segment has a new look to it, so be sure to leave any feedback.
As customary, let’s start with some power rankings for the black and gold:
- ESPN – #5
- CBS – #5
- FOX – #3
- NFL – #3
- Who Dat Dish – #4
What to Watch For
Offense – Does Mark Ingram get it going? How does Brandin Cooks ‘make his mark’ in his debut? Who will step up if Kenny Stills can’t go?
Defense – When do we see the first turnover? How much pressure can the Saints defense get on Matt Ryan? How will Patrick Robinson fare against Roddy White?
Special Teams – How does having Travaris Cadet returning kicks work out? How does the kickoff coverage perform?
Key #1 – Get Off to a Good Start
In nearly every road contest last season, the Saints did not get off to a desirable start. These two teams will be feeling each other out in the beginning, but instead of a ‘stale mate’ between these two in the early going, I believe New Orleans can really put the pressure on Atlanta by getting an early touchdown. I believe there’s more pressure on the Falcons to do well against the Saints versus the other way around. Ideally, we don’t want to fall into a hole early.
Key #2 – Disrupt Matt Ryan
We cannot let Matt Ryan have any type of extended time in the pocket. Let me also say that when we have the chance to sack him, we must bring him down. The Saints have had a good bit of success with sacking Matt Ryan in the recent games, so keeping up with this tradition should spell victory for the defense. Look for Akiem Hicks, Junior Galette, and Cam Jordan to have their name called more than a few times during the game.
Key #3 – Take Control
Coaches preach a lot about controlling and winning the time of possession battle. That holds true for this particular game. A healthy Saints run game will help take command of the time of possession, and keep the Falcons honest with having to respect the threat of the run. We saw a perfect example of what that looks like in last night’s Seahawks-Packers game. Although Green Bay didn’t win, they had some successful drives where they didn’t allow the Seahawks to substitute, and in turn wore them down for a score.
I believe this game will be dictated by the offensive line of the New Orleans Saints. There is a lot of promise there, and we know that going into this game, there’s going to be some focus on Terron Armstead and Jonathan Goodwin. Armstead did not serve as the starting tackle in either of the Falcons games last year, and is somewhat new to the rivalry. On the other hand, Goodwin isn’t a stranger to the rivalry. While I’m not questioning his ability, I just want to make sure we see some positive plays out of him. Mark Ingram could be in for a huge day if the offensive line is clicking on all cylinders.
Did You Know?
- Since 2006, Sean Payton is 13-3 against Atlanta
- This is the 91st time the Saints-Falcons will meet. The Falcons lead the all-time series 47-43, including a 1991 Wild Card win.
- Only three games in this series has needed overtime to decide a winner (1979, 2010, 2011)
- Since 1991, twenty-seven of the meetings between these two teams have been decided by a touchdown or less
- Brees has a 13-4 lifetime record against the Falcons, and along with the Bucs, it is his most faced team.
- Brees’ Career Passing Stats against the Falcons: 435/646, 67.34% completion percentage, 5,140 passing yards, 34TD-19INT, 96.6 QB Rating
Saints Injury Report
- QUESTIONABLE: WR Kenny Stills (Quad) – Limited in practice Friday
- OUT: S Marcus Ball (Hamstring), FB Erik Lorig (Ankle)
Despite the popular belief, I am not sold on the Falcons whatsoever. In my opinion, the team didn’t do enough to improve as much as they would have liked to, and the majority of the claims around their ‘improved’ season this year are based on Julio Jones coming back. I don’t know about you, but I’d be more worried about the offensive line, and the fact that there’s no more Tony Gonzalez. Don’t you think teams will know that too?
Final Prediction: Saints 27, Falcons 14