In the immortal final words of the guy standing in the middle of the Tunguska event, this is going to be a big one.
Pretty much everyone thinks the Saints are going to win this game. Nostradamus predicted it years ago. The Mayan calendar ends with the inscrutable phrase "Saints by 10." Even the holiest of holies has issued a papal bull that states that the Saints will crush our beloved Falcons like Yahweh did the Egyptians. In short, no one really believes in us.
This would be a good time for me to give you a pep talk, but frankly this is the single most terrifying game on the schedule. I'm going in with my expectations firmly lowered, so that everything up to and including a victory will cause me to throw a one man party in my office. Some may accuse me of being negative or a non-believer or your term of choice—and I'm not totally going to dispute that—but it's also unrealistic to expect us to win every game on the schedule. With the New York Giants backsliding into oblivion, it's pretty obvious that the Saints stand between us and everything we desire. Unfortunately for us, they're pretty damn good.
In order to stop them, we'll have to put forth a balanced defensive effort that follows that lovely bend and don't break philosophy that we've been practicing for a long time. Keeping the Saints to field goals and getting a couple of timely turnovers could absolutely make this a winnable one, so long as our offense isn't gaining six yards and punting every time out. I'm confident we can do it. I'm just not confident we will do it.
Snap into the links with me, dudes and dudettes.
- Woo! Get pumped!
- Injuries could be a huge factor here, as J. Mike notes. If Jason Snelling is out, that leaves us with Michael Turner, Aaron Stecker and Verron Haynes. That's not great, honestly. There's a lot of questionables on the list in general, but I expect most everyone to play. Snelling really is the wildcard.
- One of the things I truly enjoy about the Saints-Falcons rivalry is how generally civil it is. That doesn't mean it's not a good one, of course. If either team had any sustained success, it might be a more recognized one. With the Falcons drawing national headlines last year and again this season and the Saints dominating, it's bound to attract more attention. That probably also means more angry people. Yay.
- The mere mention of a sophomore slump for Ryan is enough to make me grind my teeth. There are some causes for concern, certainly, but Ryan's numbers through six games this season are actually better than in 2008. Why are we supposed to be concerned about this again? And I really don't want to hear that Ryan's doomed and we made the wrong choice and OH NO! He's a kid in his second year in the league and he's already had one of the best seasons ever by a Falcons quarterback. Time to relax.
- Matchup of the week? The two secondaries versus the two aerial attacks. Drew Brees is just plain scary right now, and it helps that he has a wealth of receiving options against a secondary that's banged up and struggling. On the other side of the field, the Saints have improved and have Darren Sharper, who can jump a route or two. They'll have to contend with Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Jenkins, though, which is still reasonably fearsome. Whoever wins it through the air will win it all.
- Saints fans don't fear the reaper, but they do fear Gonzo. Go figure.