The Atlanta Falcons go up against their most hated rival today in the New Orleans Saints. This division rivalry is, without a doubt, one of the most intense in the league. No matter how either team is doing record-wise, these games are almost always seriously competitive because they know each other very well. Also, having a real disdain for your competition is always its own motivator.
There will obviously be some caveats to today’s game considering that Drew Brees is on injured reserve, but there still are some Falcons that need to make an impact for the Falcons to beat the Saints.
Coach Jeff Ulbrich
As I mentioned before, the Saints Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees will be out this game due to a ribs injury. As a result, HC Sean Payton has mentioned that Taysom Hill will be the starter at QB. Now, obviously I don’t buy this. Hill will see time and most like will start the team’s first series, but I don’t see a situation where he plays the bulk of the game at QB. That being stated, Coach Ulbrich will need to be prepared for both Hill and former Buccaneers starting QB Jameis Winston.
We’ve seen a more aggressive defense under Ulbrich and we will need to see more of the same today against the Saints. If Ulbrich can mix coverages and continue to bring pressure against the QBs that see the field for the Saints, it should bode well for the Falcons.
On offense, the Saints have a few primary targets that they like to get involved early and often. RB Alvin Kamara is at the top of the list, and considering Drew Brees is down, I do believe they’ll lean even more on him in the running and passing game.
In past games against the Saints, Deion has been tasked with being the Kamara neutralizer and has done quite the job up to this point. If the Falcons are to be successful on defense, Deion will have to continue to take Kamara out of the passing game to eliminate that option. Being able to eliminate Kamara’s impact offensively will be a huge factor in defeating the Saints.
Ridley is looking good to play today, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Already one of the better route running receivers in the NFL, Ridley has been very good so far against the Saints. Having him as an option in the passing game makes things easier for so many other skilled players like Julio Jones and Todd Gurley. If he’s 100%, I expect Ridley to have a very nice comeback game against the Saints.
The Falcons have shown to be more consistently competitive since Raheem Morris has taken the helm at Head Coach. Also, coming off the bye, it game the team some time to rest up and get healthy. I certainly like the aggression the team has shown defensively up to this point, and it certainly must continue if the Falcons are to put the clamps on Sean Payton’s offense. The Falcons, under Coach Morris, have done a good job so far at winning games that they should win. Not only should they beat the New Orleans Saints, but they have to because, well, they’re the Saints and there’s too much on the line in regards to bragging rights.