The 2022 NFL regular season finally begins on Sunday and the New Orleans Saints will face the Atlanta Falcons in the first game of the season.
While the Saints are the more talented team on paper, we all know that anything can happen on any given Sunday. That's even more true in divisional games. It doesn't matter how much better one team is over the other, the lesser team can absolutely win these games.
With all of that said, Saints fans are all-too-familiar with the Falcons looking like they won't be a match for the black and gold and then turning around and surprising everyone. It happened midway through last season and no one would be all that shocked if it happened on Sunday (though, hopefully, it doesn't).
Let's take a look at three Falcons who could wreck Week 1 for the New Orleans Saints.
All stats courtesy of ESPN
The best player on the offensive side of the ball for the Falcons isn't the quarterback as it once was. Nope, the best offensive player in Atlanta is now second-year tight end, Kyle Pitts who the Falcons spent the fourth overall pick on in 2021 and in doing so, passed on adding Ja'Marr Chase to their offense.
Pitts went on to have an excellent rookie year despite how bad the Falcons were, finishing with 68 catches for 1,026 yards but only one touchdown. The touchdown total is surprising but Pitts will have a chance to blow that number out of the water this year.
Pitts had 70 yards against the Saints last year with 62 of those yards coming in the game where Atlanta won. He had just eight yards in the season finale where New Orleans reigned supreme.
Kyle Pitts could absolutely end up being someone who makes Sunday a long day for the Saints but hopefully, Tyrann Mathieu is up to the task of slowing him down.
Staying on the offensive side of the ball, rookie Drake London hopes to replace the production the Falcons once had consistently from Julio Jones. He'll be tasked with doing a lot as both Jones and Calvin Ridley are not on the roster this year.
London was injured during his final season at USC but that shouldn't make Saints fans think he'll be a slouch. The Trojan product had 1,084 yards before getting injured and he could be a huge piece in this game.
The hope is that Marshon Lattimore is able to shut London down in his first-ever NFL game but London is certainly someone who could break out and make this game depressing for New Orleans.
It's an insult that Casey Hayward is surrounded by a lot of nobodies on the Falcons' defense but the 11-year NFL veteran knows what it takes to be the best player on a defense. He's past his prime, sure, but Hayward showed last year that he can still ball out when needed.
Hayward finished his 10th NFL season with nine deflected passes and an interception. It wouldn't shock me in the least bit if Hayward is able to pick Jameis Winston off in this game and make things a little chaotic for him.
Even though these three players could wreck Week 1 for the Saints, this feels like a game the black and gold should win handily. If they don't, however, it's possible that these three Falcons played a big factor in why the New Orleans Saints didn't win a game they should have.