Our player to watch will come on Sunday morning, as usual, but there's more than one worthy candidate this weekend. One guy who needs to be mentioned is Steven Jackson, because there are many Saints fans who aren't looking forward to seeing him.
To put it bluntly, S-Jax has killed the Saints over his career. In five games against the Saints, he's average 122 yards per game on 22 carries per, good for a 5.1 average. You can justifiably point out that Jackson is getting older, that he's in a new offense and that the Falcons are likely to pass all day. Doesn't matter, because he's still going to have a nice day.
Consider the following:
- Jackson will start the year fresh. I have my concerns about how he'll wear down over the course of the season, but he's healthy and looked great in preseason. He'll be explosive and difficult to bring down for 20 carries, as usual.
- Jackson adds a pass-catching dimension to the Falcons' offense that the Saints haven't really had to deal with. Even Jacquizz Rodgers only picked up 29 yards on six catches over two games against N.O. in 2012. S-Jax should get a handful of catches, and once he's in open space, he's going to be lethal.
- The Saints' defense is going to struggle mightily. Squint and you can see the outline of a pretty good D, with some quality pieces in the secondary, young pass rushers and a potentially excellent space-clogging nose tackle up front. It's going to take a while for those guys to gel, though, and there's still enough question marks here to make it at best an average defense for 2013. S-Jax feasts on average defenses.
Add it all up and you can't help but pencil in Jackson for over 100 yards combined between air and ground and another performance that makes Saints fans unhappy. A great game from Jackson wouldn't necessarily win the game for the Falcons, but it would go a very long way.
What's your prediction for S-Jax on Sunday?