NFC Game Of The Week

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

Falcons: They are in the same position as we speak that they were in last year and we all wondered when they’d find their swagger and they’d have people talking. The Atlanta Falcons are rolling right now. They’ve won their last two games and as we speak right now, they’re in the sixth spot in the competitive NFC playoff picture and the division isn’t out of reach either. Their offense is finally getting back to what won them the NFC title last year and that’s the running of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman along with Matt Ryan spreading the ball around to their receivers. They haven’t looked the best throughout the year and they’ve been the model of inconsistency. They came out the gates winning their first three and struggled to really stay in their rhythm as things went along. If you sit down and carefully watch the highlights of their game against the Buccaneers last Monday night, the offense wasn’t necessarily explosive, but they were balanced as they recorded 209 yards passing and 201 yards rushing. We’re getting close to the finish line and with a win on Sunday against the Saints, they will not only clinch a playoff spot, but they will jump ahead in the driver’s seat in the NFC South in first place over both New Orleans and Carolina with one game to go. This will be the second time in almost three weeks that they will face the Saints.

Saints: They’re sitting at 10-4 and still in first place in the division after a 31-19 win over the New York Jets. As I said a few weeks ago, the talk about winning ugly is true and that’s exactly what the Saints did last week as they truly struggled on both sides of the football. The offense couldn’t take care of the football as they turned it over a total of three times and they had trouble converting on third downs and for those of you who have followed me closely, converting on third down is so important because it keeps your offense on the field, their defense is gassed and they don’t get to go to the sidelines, it keeps the opposition’s offense on the sideline and your defense is well rested on the bench. One of the biggest improvements this year for the Saints has been their defense and they really had a difficult time shutting down the running attack of the Jets and they struggled to really figure out Bryce Petty. With two weeks remaining in the season, this isn’t the best time to struggle, especially since you’ve been on top of your division for most of the season. A few weeks back, they struggled to put away the Atlanta Falcons and on Sunday, they will face them and the winner of this game I feel will take the division. There’s so much on the line here in this one.

Falcons Player To Watch: Brooks Reed- This Falcons front four doesn’t get enough recognition. They have one of the elite run defenders in the middle of the line in Dontari Poe and Brooks Reed has been a very solid pass rusher for them and this is exactly what you need when you’re facing a quarterback like Drew Brees. He’ll come off the edge and stuns if necessary just to get Drew out his rhythm and out of sync.

Saints Player To Watch: Marshon Lattimore– In the first matchup, he handled his business against Julio Jones and he was responsible for one of Matt Ryan’s three interceptions. If you want to be considered one of the best at your position, you need to be able to play against one of the best at their position and you’ll have that chance once again on Sunday afternoon.

Final Analysis– This has always been one of my favorite rivalries in the NFL because the games are often close and there’s always something on the line and that’s exactly what we have here. Matt Ryan needs to take better care of the football when facing the Saints the second time around. He was just lucky the first time that his defense was able to bail him out when it mattered the most. The Saints need to try and punish their opponents with their ground game because their offense is a lot scarier when Ingram and Kamara are both getting their touches and making things happen.

Prediction: Saints 27 Falcons 23