This post is the second part to Turner_The _Burner's post Best Case Scenario vs. The Saints. It can be read here.
It's that time of the week again when Turner_The_Burner and I, dunlagh, will give you a breakdown of the 3 best case and 3 worst case situations for the game. These will focus on different parts of the Falcons game where they could soar or suffer against our opponents. Obviously we’re Falcons fans, and have a bit more knowledge of the Dirty Birds than some other teams, so if you’re a visitor or just an NFL purist and we make a shocking mistake, please call us out on it! Other than that I hope you enjoy our work.
At mid season we are in a decent place, considering the tough competition that is the NFC South. However we are up against the toughest team left on our schedule. And this strikes me as the 2nd most important game we have left (the most important also being against the Saints). The Falcons and Saints have a good rivalry going on especially as we are 2 (dare I say it) Super Bowl Caliber teams who play each other at least twice a season. I personally have a great respect for the team as I love a good rivalry, but as a fierce Falcons fan (try saying that 5 times fast) I do want to see us destroy the Saints. So entering week 10, we give you the 8th best case/worst case scenario for 2011.
Flipping it to the Saints
I get to play the role of doomsayer, as I speak about 3 areas where New Orleans can hurt us bad. The Saints have often been touted as the one team that can beat the all mighty Packers in the NFC, however they also lost to the Rams and as funny as that is, it also means they can be beaten. Now Falcons are riding on a high after a good flogging of the Colts and we will try to keep the momentum going. However this will be no easy task, so the 3 worst case scenarios for the Falcons are - The Saints Run Deep, Tough Trench Warfare and Bachman Turner No-Drive
The Saints Run Deep: The Saints have been stacked at RB for a while now, their last season rushing leader Chris Ivory is now 4th on their depth chart and though they let Reggie Bush go, they picked up Darren Sproles and drafted Mark Ingram. They have a very deadly backfield as they have both capable power backs as well as speed backs, Now even with Ingram out it takes little away from their danger, Ingram will be a good runner but right now Chris Ivory is just as good. Ivory is fairly one dimensional in his playing style as a hard nose runner, however he is strong enough to break some tackles and fast enough that he once broke for a 55 yard TD. Thomas provides a more dangerous combination of pass catching and power running, with that diversity he strikes me as a Matt Forte mold player and is in my opinion the most deadly player in that backfield. Sproles, their newest member of the 3 and is a very deadly player, give him some space then he will burn you and even when you don't, he still can find some room. Sproles lacks the power of the other two but makes up with it in elusiveness.
The depth of this backfield will be tough for the Falcons as it will require the front 7 to be on top of their game. Saying this, Lofton and 'Spoon have been playing at the highest level this year but even they will be tested. Sean Peyton is a very smart coach and will line his backs up in various formations to force Lofton and 'Spoon to account for multiple people every play. Babineaux and Peters will have to close the middle for Ivory and Thomas and force them to go wide, if not then the field becomes very big to cover, even for our dynamic LB duo.
Tough Trench Warfare: One of the keys for most games is who gets to the QB more, and when looking at how the Saints achieve this its quite surprising. Their D-line has some decent players with Will Smith, 1st round pick Cameron Jordan, Sedrick Ellis and Turk McBride. However it is their SS Harper who has the most sacks on the season with 5.5. In fact for the Saints their back 7 (10.5 sacks) have more sacks their their D-Line (9.5 sacks), which strikes me as odd, however the Saints have always struck me as a big play defence team which focus' on take aways. If Will Svitek doesn't play at a high level and the O-line doesn't mesh and look for a blitzing corner, safety or LB, then the Saints opportunistic DB's will surely force a turnover or two. Make note that the Falcons have allowed the 6th most hits to their QB with 47 and Saints have the T-11th best pass rush with 20 sacks. I can almost guarantee that Ryan will be pressured this week and if he is not smart, accurate and given a bit of time, we will not be able to keep up with the Saints offensive acumen.
On our defensive side of the field we have a tough job considering the QB we face, Brees knows the Falcons well enough to cause us a lot of grief IF we give him the chance. Sadly, considering our pass rush this year, he probably will have that chance. Abraham is having a tough year with only 3 sacks, Edwards has been opportunistic in collecting fumbles however has only grabbed 2 sacks, the same number as El-Sid and Spoon. Peters has picked up 3 and USS Babineaux and Duffman only have 1 each. This may be attributed to the poor play of our DB's early in the season however we still aren't applying consistent enough pressure considering the talent we hold. If somehow the 67 receivers that Brees has to throw to can be covered for a couple of seconds then we could force some QB hits we might be able to slow him down, but Brees is a very accurate, very dangerous QB and there is a chance he could beat us regardless of the defences play.
Bachman Turner No-Drive: Last week we faced a very uninspired Colts defense which is one of the easiest match ups we will face with Turner, however he only managed 71 yards on 19 carries for a uninspiring 3.7 ypc. This was against the 31 ranked defence a team that gives up an average of 146.1 yards per game on the ground, you would hope one of the premier Running Backs in the NFL could muster up more then 71 yards. Now in all fairness Turner sat out the last quarter and thanks to our dynamic rookie duo of JJ and Rodgers we ended up with 163 yards on 41 carries, a yard shy of a perfect 4 ypc average.
Snelling didn't help the matter as he churned out a lazy 8 carries for 15 yards not even mustering up 2 yards per carry and 6 of those yards came on one run. I have my own theory about why Snelling is extremely valuable to this team beyond being a FB/RB jack of all trades football player. However this game was just bad, even worse as it was against the 2nd worst running defence in the league, the game was a blowout in the 4th quarter and he was fresh against a defence that had been getting killed for the last couple hours. However I have a theory about the Falcons: if they can play a complete offensive game then, like in the Colts game, a team must naturally focus on either the running game or the passing game, and since the Falcons have the talent and depth at both positions, they can beat any defence in the NFL. However having our run offence slowed against such a poor team is cause for concern.
Unfortunately that is all we have for this week. But we will be back, we always are. A win here will put us in the driving seat heading to January a loss will mean any mistake could cost us a playoff stop. But until next time, I wish you good luck and all the best to the Falcons - this should be a great game.