We’d all like for the Saints to walk into Atlanta with the same blueprint and come out with another victory, but we all are aware that they won’t have it so easy this time around against the rivals.
Hill is coming off of a disastrous performance, while his production against the Falcons two weeks ago was inflated tremendously by success in unstable metrics and the overall scheme he is in. Should he have to make plays on late downs and carry this time, I’d expect a lot of sacks, turnovers, and overall ineffectiveness.
That’s what makes the game script so crucial. The Saints are a ball-control offense relying on their rushing attack and play-action passes on early downs.
Meanwhile, their pass rush and pass coverage are built to take advantage of opposing offenses in obvious passing situations. To get out on top, New Orleans needs to pull out all the tricks necessary early in the game, and must not let Atlanta connect on explosive passes.
This may seem outlandish, but for those reasons, the first quarter will likely determine the outcome of this game.
Unfortunately, the Falcons are a top-ten team in points/game in the first quarter, which doesn’t bode well for the Saints, who I’m not sure will cover as a three-point favorite, even if they find a way to scrape out a tough victory.
After a “free win” last week, this is a major test for the Hill-led Saints. Sean Payton will have to demonstrate his ability to have a counter-punch for what Atlanta throws his way this time around, and although he is certainly qualified to do so, there is only so much a coach can control.
For that reason, this game ultimately falls on Hill, which adds to the intrigue and uncertainty of the outcome of this game.
This is a huge game for the Saints to remain in control of the #1 seed, as well as solidify their first-place spot in the NFC South.
Fans would like nothing more than to come away with their second sweep over Atlanta in three years; few things in football can top an NFC South rivalry matchup! This may not be in primetime, yet it definitely has the feel of one!