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By the Numbers Stats Preview: Falcons at Saints

Let’s dive in to the exciting world of team statistics to compare the two teams that will clash on Monday Night Football.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

I love numbers. They tell interesting stories and reveal things that might otherwise go unnoticed. Stats in the NFL are no different—they’re just more interesting.

In this weekly column, I’ll break down the key stats for the Falcons and their opponent to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each team. By doing so, we can often discover interesting match-ups and potential pitfalls.

Now, the thing about statistics is that they become more accurate as more data is gathered. Since we’ve got only two games of data, the stats are prone to big shifts. As the season goes on, we’ll see an increasingly accurate picture of the NFL.

All stats are taken from’s Stats page, which is a great resource if you enjoy crunching numbers as I do. Buckle up folks, it’s time to get numerical.


Key: Stat being measured, raw data (NFL rank).

Points Per Game: Falcons 29.5 (T-6th), Saints 23.5 (14th)
Total Yds Per Game: Falcons 451.0 (2nd), Saints 397.5 (8th)
Passing Yds Per Game: Falcons 355.5 (1st), Saints 333.0 (4th)
Passing TDs: Falcons 5 (T-2nd), Saints 5 (T-2nd)
Rushing Yds Per Game: Falcons 95.5 (17th), Saints 64.5 (T-28th)
Rushing TDs: Falcons 1 (T-18th), Saints 0 (T-24th)
Third Down Efficiency: Falcons 35% (T-22nd), Saints 29% (26th)
TO Margin: Falcons 0 (17th), Saints +2 (8th)


Key: Stat being measured, raw data (NFL rank).

Points Per Game: Falcons 29.5 (27th), Saints 25.5 (22nd)
Total Yds Per Game: Falcons 412.5 (28th), Saints 451.5 (31st)
Passing Yds Per Game: Falcons 290.0 (23rd), Saints 336.0 (30th)
Passing TDs: Falcons 7 (T-31st), Saints 1 (T-3rd)
Rushing Yds Per Game: Falcons 122.5 (25th), Saints 115.5 (22nd)
Rushing TDs: Falcons 1 (T-5th), Saints 3 (T-26th)
Third Down Efficiency: Falcons 38% (13th), Saints 42% (17th)
Sacks: Falcons 1 (T-31st), Saints 2 (T-24th)

On offense, the Falcons dominate all statistics but one: turnover margin. Atlanta boasts the #1 passing game in the NFL through two weeks and the #2 offense in total yards. While that trend is unlikely to hold for the entire season, it’s certainly impressive. The Falcons are also averaging nearly 30 points per game.

On defense, the two teams are more evenly split. Both teams are among the worst in points per game, total yards per game, and sacks. Strangely, the Saints have only allowed one passing TD so far this season. Conversely, the Falcons have allowed 7 so far. Let’s hope those numbers look a little more even after this game.

With the Falcons holding a marked advantage on offense over the Saints—which is a rare occurrence in the Brees/Payton era—Atlanta seems to have the edge based on the numbers. While the stats say that the defenses are both fairly bad, the eye test says that the Saints are considerably worse.

This is shaping up to be a very favorable match-up for the Falcons, even before taking into account the injuries to LT Terron Armstead and WR Willie Snead. Atlanta really needs to get a win in New Orleans to keep their playoff hopes alive with a brutal stretch of games coming up. Let’s hope the Falcons put on a show on Monday Night Football.

What do you think about the game? Do you think Atlanta stacks up well against the Saints, at least on paper?