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Where the Atlanta Falcons stand heading into Week 3 against the Saints

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The banged up Falcons can seal up a pivotal win against New Orleans.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow, the Falcons will tackle the New Orleans Saints. If you’re looking to see where the team is at heading into this game in terms of roster construction, health and overall outlook, look no further than our weekly update. This is an important game, and as you might imagine, the stakes are pretty high.

Roster Update

The Falcons made one change to their active roster this week, placing Andy Levitre on injured reserve and signing former Viking Zac Kerin. He’s done little at the NFL level and will be deep depth on the interior of the offensive line if Wes Schweitzer and Ben Garland falter or get hurt. That’s the only change, as major as it is, and it means Schweitzer will be the new starter at left guard. If he can hold up well, the Falcons’ offense will be in great shape, at least.

Health

It’s not good news again this week. Obviously Deion Jones and Keanu Neal are out, but so are Takkarist McKinley, Derrick Shelby, and reserve linebacker Corey Nelson. With Levitre hitting IR, the Falcons are losing some of their biggest contributors to injury early and often in 2018.

The pass rush is suddenly a major weakness for this week, too.

What’s at stake?

The Falcons have a legitimate chance to move into a tie for first place in the division (technically first, with a 2-0 divisional record) if things shake out right. That doesn’t mean a ton three weeks in, sure, but it does put them in a strong position early on to weather the storm in the NFC South.

A loss here isn’t fatal, either, but it puts the Falcons behind the Saints, and New Orleans has looked shakier than they have any right to in the early going. I unfortunately don’t expect that to continue, so getting a leg up now would help a lot.

Outlook

I think the Falcons can win this one, though obviously I’m quite wary of the injuries that have piled up in the last few weeks. The Saints haven’t rounded into form yet, the Falcons are at home, and there’s still more than enough talent present to hang 30-plus points on this New Orleans defense. A timely turnover or two might be the difference-maker.

But I’ll freely admit that I’m keeping my expectations tempered heading into this one, because the injuries complicate things a lot. We simply don’t know whether Riley’s going to fare better, how Kazee will do in his toughest challenge yet, and whether the pass rush is going to be up to snuff minus Takk. Cautious optimism is warranted, methinks.