Here's a short guide to rooting against the Saints this weekend. Maybe it's just the falcohol talking, but I think we have a legitimate chance to beat the Saints. If Drew Breesy fo' Sheezy can be bottled up, I find it highly unlikely that Aaron Stecker and Pierre Thomas are going to tear the run defense up. That's a big if, of course, but there's also no reason to think it can't happen. Unless Lewis Sanders plays. That would be bad.
Ye gods, the Falcons have been terrible at scoring this year. The Saints have a non-intimidating 266 points scored, but the Falcons actually have nearly 100 less at 171. A team of sea turtles could put more on the board, for the love of Tommy Nobis. The point of this is to illustrate one of the oldest concepts in the book: to stop the Saints from winning this game, the defense is going to have to shut them down. Even with the shiny new Chris Redman behind center, the Falcons aren't likely to suddenly put 40+ on the board. The D will have to step up, and that's mostly on DeAngelo Hall and Chris Houston. Without Bush catching a ton of passes out of the backfield, that task should be a lot easier.
There's been a lot of talk about protecting Chris Redman, which always cracks me up. The idea that the linemen are suddenly going to say "hey, we like Chris!" and suddenly develop blocking skills is pretty laughable. Redman's quicker release will go a long ways toward keeping him safe. It still could be a long day, because guys like Will "Fresh Prince of N.O." Smith and Scott "Mr. Fuji" Fujita are probably going to be in the backfield multiple times. Smith leads N.O. with 5 sacks while Fujita leads the team in tackles. Nawlins cornerbacks also have 10 interceptions on the year and Mike McKenzie will give Roddy White fits. It's more important than ever to give the ball to Norwood and try to put the offense off balance. As usual, that rides on Bobby Petrino's brain or lack thereof.
If the Falcons can play to not give up the first down, I like their chances of getting Olindo Mare involved in the game. Yes, the same Olindo Mare who is only managing to nail 53% of his field goals this year could be the difference maker for the Saints. The Falcons should go ahead and dare him to try, preferably by kidnapping the rest of the team and forcing Mare to play by himself. That'd be pretty sweet.
The Saints have more to play for the Falcons, because their players and coach actually seem to have more pride and less inclination to shoot for a Top 3 pick. Still, they only beat the Falcons by six last time, and there's little chance of Leftwich breaking in half and fumbling all over the field. I have no idea what Redman is going to do, but it's pretty clear that he'll be the key to this game for the Falcons unless Norwood gets a ton of carries. Some solid defense and a 28 point game for a change would probably be enough to cover it, but I'm really hoping the Falcons can get to Brees early. I'd hate to see us get whupped on by a team missing its two best running backs.
I'm predicting a 28-20 win for the Falcons. What do you guys think?