Who Dat Dominating on the Road This Season?

Willy Mo always ready to beat the Saints. - Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE

Despite New Orleans' 3-5 record, it is undeniable that they are working with considerable offensive talent. However, the Falcons are playing such quality football on the road that there is no reason they won't walk away with a win on Sunday.

There is much more discussion about the possibility of the 3-5 New Orleans Saints "reviving" their "playoff hopes" with a win over the Falcons in the Super Dome this Sunday than is probably reasonable. According to FootballOutsiders.com, the odds that the Saints will make the playoffs at all currently stand at 1.5%. But, the win/loss record of Drew Brees and company is not consistent with their offensive talent. Do not let their record distract from the fact that the Saints have the potential to spoil Atlanta's perfect season this Sunday. But, they probably won't. Why? Because the Falcons are a spectacular road team.

Atlanta's strength on the road has been overlooked this season, mainly because the undefeated record is the bigger story. But the Falcons have statistically been more dominant on the road on offense and defense.

Offense

Home

Away

Points Per Game

24.8

30.2

Total Yards Per Game

360

393

The trends are pretty clear for total offense and average points per game. The Falcons are performing significantly better on the road offensively. Even more impressive? The difference in red zone efficiency at home and on the road.

Offense

Home

Away

Red Zone Efficiency

42.86%

68.42%

Contributing to all of this is the offensive line's protection of Matt Ryan. There are some pretty big differences in the number of sacks, hits and hurries permitted at home and on the road.

Offense

Home

Away

QB Sacks Allowed

12

5

QB Hits Allowed

17

2

QB Hurries Allowed

38

33

The Falcons are the least penalized team in the league. Drew Brees knows it, Joe Vitt knows it, you know it, and I know it. But even the rarely-penalized Falcons tend to penalized more at home than on the road so far this season.

Penalties

Home

Away

Average Per Game

3.5

3.0

Atlanta's defense is performing better on the road as well.

Defense

Home

Away

Points Per Game Allowed

20.5

15.2

Yards Per Game Allowed

397.8

314.8

We've lamented the missed tackles by the Falcons. The defense is wrapping up more effectively on the road.

Defense

Home

Away

Missed Tackles

38

29

The Falcons are bringing more pressure on opposing quarterbacks on the road as well.

Defense

Home

Away

QB Sacks

9

11

QB Hits

5

13

QB Hurries

34

42

The Falcons are the better team in this matchup. While the Saints are more talented than their record implies, Drew Brees still has the ability to ruin everyone's day. Atlanta's defense will need to consistently pressure Brees, and adequately cover Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Lance Moore in particular. Darren Sproles should be out recovering from hand surgery, and while the Saints do have other talented running backs--Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram--they are not as difficult to contain as the notoriously elusive Sproles.

Offensively, the Falcons seriously outclass the Saints defense. New Orleans is currently ranked last in the league for yards allowed per game (471.2), 29th in passing yards allowed per game (294.8), 28th for points allowed per game (28.6), last in the league for rushing yards allowed per game (176.5), so this is a statistically favorable matchup for the Falcons, especially on the road. Against that run defense, Michael Turner, Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers should be able to establish a solid rushing attack. Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez should be able to exploit New Orleans' coverage.

As long as the Falcons go marching into the Super Dome and play the quality football they have been playing on the road, they will walk away with a win. What are you expecting from the Falcons this Sunday?

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