After 14 games, we know the Atlanta Falcons have one of the worst defenses in the NFL for the second consecutive year. They're prone to big plays, they can't get off the field on third downs at least half the time and then there's this fun little statistic.
If #Falcons D allows 840 yds in final 2 games, they will have given up the 5th most yards in NFL History in a single season.— Aaron Freeman (@falcfans) December 17, 2014
So things look grim for the defense, especially against a suddenly resurgent Saints offense. The key to beating Drew Brees isn't going to lie in the hard-fought stops—though those will certainly help—but in the sudden scoring chances that come from interceptions and forced fumbles. This is something Mike Nolan and Mike Smith are painfully aware of, as the last two games have seen the turnovers that made the Falcons' winning streak possible evaporate entirely.
How to force Brees into interceptions, then? It's not going to be easy, but the Falcons need to be aggressive about their attempts to get hands on the football. They've certainly had their fair share of picks against Brees in the past, and this New Orleans team has a less-than-100% Jimmy Graham, a hot-and-cold Marques Colston and no Brandin Cooks, Darren Sproles and Lance Moore, three men who have haunted the Falcons in recent matchups. The opportunities should be there if the secondary can do its job and stick close to the receiving options the Saints do have, but this is a game where they can't afford dropped picks and big misses.
The best way to force poor throws that can be picked off is to pressure Brees consistently, but there's only so many times I can suggest something that unlikely without hanging my head in defeat.
How many turnovers do you think the Falcons will manage Sunday?