This week the Saints are on the road once again traveling to Atlanta to take on their NFC South rivals. Both teams are coming off wins as the Falcons made quick work of the Colts and the Saints took care of the Bucs grabbing first place in the process. I try not make too much of a regular season game but this game could go a long way in determining where the Saints go in the playoffs. Looking forward to this game as I always like it when the Saints can go on the road and silence the Georgia Dome crowd beating the Falcons.
Nothing to worry about on the special teams side as the Falcons don’t really have that breakaway threat. The punter is a no name guy while the kicker is a former Buc who really wasn’t all that good when he was in Tampa Bay. This is a defense that has gotten better as the season has gone on. They have a group that won’t win games but they do make it difficult for opposing teams as they can attack in different ways. The defensive line is led by John Abraham and newcomer Ray Edwards. These two guys are defenders the Saints have to know where they are at all times or it will be a long day for Drew Brees. The linebackers are suspect but they do a good job of stopping the run. It was believed that the secondary for the Falcons was the Achilles heel of the defense this year but after a couple bad games to start the season the secondary has been getting better each week.
How to take advantage?
Both teams know each other as they have played some great games the last couple of years. So to find an advantage will be a little tough but I think the way to go will be to attack through the air to set up the running game. Last week was great as the Saints first three plays was running plays getting back to basics but this week the yards will be tough to come by on the ground. I look for some quick passes over the middle ,screens to the running backs and just dropping it off in the flats to get the offense on track to start the game off. The other key stat to look at is the Saints are 6-0 when they rush for over one hundred yards in games this year, so as the Saints get a lead in this game they can keep that time of possession in their favor by running the ball.
The Falcons offense is led by Matt Ryan and a handful of pro bowl playmakers. They run first to set up their passing game but as last season wore on teams keyed in on stopping the run and taking Roddy White out. That is why the Falcons went out and drafted Julio Jones. Not that Roddy wasn’t doing the job but Julio is a deep threat that will help the offensive personnel get one on one matchups. The guy who has given the Saints problems over the last couple of years is Tony Gonzalez, he is a matchup nightmare just because he knows how to get open and he is a threat in the red zone. Early in the season the offensive line was riddled with injures and it showed as teams were getting pressure on Ryan, which in turn this led to more turnovers. But the offensive line has gotten starters back and it has improved their offense the last couple of weeks.
How to take advantage?
Stopping the run will go along way in stopping this offense for the Saints defense. Michael Turner will get his yards but the Saints need to get the Falcons in third and long situations taking the running game out of the equation. It has seemed the last couple of times the Saints have played the Falcons that Matt Ryan has had time in the pocket to pick the secondary apart but Coach Williams needs to be mixing it up this week building on last week performance against the Bucs. Last week the Saints came to play on defense and while they didn’t shut down the Bucs they did get them off the field in key situations. Also along with stopping Turner, can the Saints cover Tony Gonzalez especially on third downs? Because it seems like that is where Ryan is looking to go on a key third down… so maybe slide a linebacker underneath to take away Gonzalez’ underneath routes.