The Falcons now stand at 12-2 atop of the NFC as we take on the Saints at the Georgia Dome, so we bring you officially our 9th post in our Best Case/Worst Case evaluation of this week’s matchup. Show us some love and rec both of our posts.
This is the 2nd part of Turner_The_Burner's post Best Case Scenario vs. Saints. See it here
Flipping it to the Saints
As it has been said here I’m going to play the devil’s advocate here and speak about where the Saints can hurt us bad. A win here will mean we are NFC champions, division champions and keeps us on pace to have the best record in the NFL. I would like to plead everyone to keep this civil, I know this is a heated rivalry and this is a very important game to distinguish who is the dominant team in the NFC South, but I would hope that we could speak here without people slandering the Saints, and Saints fans I am more than happy for you to say your opinion but please leave out the smack talk, we are all friends here. So the worst case scenario for the Falcons is – Brees shows his skills, their running game breaks away and Ryan is kept off the field.
Brees shows his skills: Now Drew Brees is without a doubt one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL at the moment, his accuracy, awareness and ability to make the best throw at the best time makes him a force to be reckoned with. So it’s no surprise he was last year’s Super Bowl MVP. He is not however invincible, he is not perfect and he is definitely able to be contained, but it’ll be tough.
Brees is good, he is so good that last season alone he was: selected for the Pro Bowl, selected for the All Pro team, the NFC Offensive Player of the Year, the Bert Bell Award winner, a Super Bowl champion, the Super Bowl MVP, on the cover of Madden 2011, Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, the Associated Press Athlete of the Year, the runner up for the MVP and broke numerous NFL records. In my opinion he had a hell of year, even though this year he hasn’t had the stats or incredible numbers like he had last year, he still has thrown a 7 yard pass to himself so I think that makes up for it. The point to me making such a list is to prove how good a player Brees is, he is an amazing player who on any given Sunday can win a game for his team. Brees is not to be looked over because regardless of how good the Falcons play Brees will keep the Saints in the game and keep the game close. Last time Brees played the Falcons he had one of his best games all year with 365 yards, 79.8% pass completion and 3 TD’s. That is a rating of 111.1 but that also includes 2 interceptions that Brees probably won’t throw again. BREES IS A THREAT.
Their running game breaks away: Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas are both deadly players, add Chris Ivory into the mix you have a scary 3-headed monster coming out of the backfield that has to be considered if this game is going to be close. Unfortunately the Saints 26th ranked rushing offense isn’t a true indication of the teams running prowess. With injuries to Bush and Thomas early in the season caused Chris Ivory to take up that role which took some time to adapt to, now that he is comfortable running in the Sean Payton’s playbook, he brings another threat and can cause a lot of damage by himself. Add in a now healthy Bush and Thomas and we have problems, oh I forgot they have Julius Jones too.
When we played the Saints last time they had recently lost Reggie Bush and only had Pierre Thomas who had 9 rushed for 30 yards and 6 catches for 61 yards. Not an amazing effort but an ok one. Now Thomas is a good runner who is a capable receiver and when healthy averages around 5 yards per run. Add in Reggie Bush, an explosive player who is equally as big of threat in the passing game as in the running game, he is also the only Ex-Heisman winner. Bush provides the ability to make any play a big play, he averages about 4 yards a rush, has some huge receptions under his belt but he does fumble the ball a bit. Chris Ivory became the man this year when everyone else got hurt, he is a more typical runner but as a rookie he could learn to catch a pass while he grows. He averages over 5 yards per carry this year and has exploded for two 100+ yardage games and one 99 yard game. He is a good runner but has lost his role with the return of Bush and Thomas. Finally Jones who was brought in as insurance for Ivory, he averages over 4 yards with the Saints for the season and is a decent runner when given the chance who is adept at catching the ball in the backfield. He is 3rd in the depth chart in front of Ivory so it means we probably won’t see him or Ivory at all but regardless they are all good runners.
It’s difficult to process all of the numbers and people that the Saints have but there are a few things that are clear. The Saints have a lot of options so if someone isn’t playing well they can swap him out easily. When healthy the Saints runners average around 5 yards per game, that means there O-line is fairly good at run blocking. They are a threat in the passing game and it means someone should always account for the runner especially Reggie Bush. Last year the Saints had the 6th best rushing team without Jones or Ivory. Watch out for this backfield that is coming healthy right now.
Ryan is kept off the field: A lot of analysts talk about the reason the Falcons can be a great team despite not having the best defense in terms of yards allowed. It’s the fact they keep Matt Ryan on the field, either by forcing turn overs or having long offensive drives. Our Falcons dominated the time of possession last time out, we had 45:50 they had 27:15. We had almost 20 more minutes than the Saints on offense yet the game came down to a field goal in overtime.
Saints are very good at scoring quickly and with such a potent offense they are able to slice teams up quickly and efficiently. The Falcons however have a different approach at beating teams, it doesn’t have a name as of yet but its slow, steady, takes a lot of time off the clock and leads to a few close calls. If our friends in New Orleans take a page from our book and spend a bit more time during their drive down the field then we might not have the time to regain some of our points. This would include stopping our offense on third down, something the Saints have struggled with all season. If they can stop our deadly 3rd down offense then this game might be one sided, and not the good side.
That is all for the analysis for this week. Comment with your opinion and any other scenarios you think are appropriate. Winning seasons are fun, but so is being the NFC champion and all we need is one more win. So finally good luck to the Falcons and I hope they get a comfortable win to keep on their winning ways.