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Week 9 Preview: Falcons vs. Saints

The Falcons look to pick up a road win against their bitter rival in Week 9.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The rivalry does not need much explanation. In the world of the NFL, long-standing series between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints is one of the most bitter, hatred-driven rivalries in the entire league. The same can probably be said in all of sports, as well.

Currently, the Falcons lead the all-time series, 53-51. In order for them to get win number 54, they will have to roll back the sleeves a little and buckle down on the road against a Saints team that is currently on a three-game win streak and coming off a big home win last week against the Bucs. Time to dive on the latest edition of the hostile rivalry between the Falcons and the Saints.

Game: Falcons vs. Saints

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Time and television: Nov 7th, 1:00 PM EST, Fox Network

Key in-game matchup: Falcons HC Arthur Smith vs. Saints DC Dennis Allen

Just as they were last week in the matchup against Carolina, the Falcons will be a little shorthanded this week on the offensive side of the ball. Because of that, the Falcons offense had a difficult time getting any type of rhythm in Week 8. That cannot be the case against a Saints defense that is 10th in the NFL in total defense and fourth in scoring defense.

Their work is cut out for them because now, teams have film on how to bracket tight end Kyle Pitts, as well as how to force the Falcons offense to lean on a run game that has been unreliable. They also have to get by with a group of skill position players that has been absent or inconsistent outside of Cordarrelle Patterson.

The onus is on Arthur Smith to be creative and efficient with his play calling, because whatever points the Falcons are able to score against this Saints defense, they’re going to have to truly work for it. Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen loves to dial up pressure, regardless of down, and play plenty of man coverage on the back end. Combatting that will not be simple and Smith is going to have to figure out a way to make it happen.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

One Two key player(s) to watch: Safeties Erik Harris and Duron Harmon

The Falcons have themselves a highly respected defensive coordinator who has a history of leaning on veterans more than the younger players to execute his defense. In games such as this, it is the veteran players that are going to be relied on to make an important play or two.

On the defensive side of the ball, the lack of game-changing plays are evident and some of that is a result of a needed talent upgrade that isn’t coming in the here and now. The other side of that is simply not taking advantage when prime opportunities present themselves. The Falcons pair of veteran safeties in Harris and Harmon have not really answered the bell in that department, with dropped interception chances and a quiet season in general from Harmon. In order for the Falcons to pull off the road upset, big plays are going to have to be abound.

If there was ever a game for these two veterans to have a significant impact, it would be on the road against the biggest rival.

How can the Falcons win: Mistake free play

This is easier said than done, especially in a four quarter game setting, and especially when you have a team that is still attempting to string together consistent efforts. Going back to 2019, the Falcons were in a somewhat similar boat, when they found themselves going on the road against the Saints and snatching an upset win in a season that looked a little dire from afar. It’s not impossible for the Falcons to get the same result here.

In order for that to happen, the ball has to roll their way a little. Proper tackling, no turnovers, red zone conversions, no drive killing penalties. These boxes have to be checked to put the Falcons in place to get a significant win on the road.