Feel confident about the Falcons offense
Cam Jordan is a threat. The Saints defensive line in general is quite solid, and they have a solid secondary on paper with second year studs Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley. On paper.
The reality is that this is the weakest defense the Falcons have faced their year by a wide margin. There’s no insanely deep collection of pass rushers like the Eagles brought to bear, and no extremely beefy defensive tackle rotation to worry about. There’s no great linebackers or safeties here to punish the Falcons. There’s just one elite pass rusher, some very good linemen beside him, and some very good cornerbacks who have scuffled early on in the year. The Falcons just hung 31 points on Carolina and will have failed mightily if they come up significantly short of that against the Saints.
Feel worried about stopping the pass
How could you not?
The Falcons still have one of the better cornerback corps in the game, which goes a very long way against a Saints offense that has been content to spin out shorter and shorter passes as Drew Brees ages. This is still a potent, volume-based attack, however, and the Saints won’t be content to simply throw it to their wide receivers.
Instead, look for the Saints to challenge Damontae Kazee and this group of linebackers early by throwing it to their tight end group and (most dangerously) Alvin Kamara. Ideally, the Falcons would be able to clamp down on that early and force Brees to challenge Atlanta’s cornerbacks, who are good enough to at least slow this attack down significantly, if not come away with some crucial interceptions.
There’s also the question of whether the pass rush can get home. Grady Jarrett has done yeoman’s work on the interior, but he’s the only defensive lineman getting consistent pressure, with Takkarist McKinley also doing so. Takk is hurt and may not play, though, leaving the Falcons with a potential Vic Beasley/Brooks Reed/Steven Means rotation if Derrick Shelby also can’t go. It’s hard to see a ton of production coming off the edge, and the team’s best hope is probably to see Jarrett and Jack Crawford bringing heat right in Brees’ face.
I’m concerned that won’t happen, though, and if Brees can dink and dunk his way down the field to Kamara and leave Duke Riley trying to catch up, the Falcons are in trouble. That sets them up for success on offense more or less across the board, and Kamara could punish this team in the open field. That may not translate to a win for New Orleans, but it’s going to make for a very long afternoon.