Firstly, a Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating!
A bit different from the normal format as we already talked about this match-up prior to the week 10 encounter (shameless plug: https://allsaintsconsidered.com/over-the-fence-from-over-the-pond-week-10/… I may have been overconfident as were the Saints….). In this preview I will look at how both teams have fared since that game and what to expect this time around.
Week 10 Recap:
A horrible game for the Saints, the Falcons seemed much more up for it and frankly humiliated the Black and Gold in the dome finishing as 26-9 winners, making many Saints fans eat a slice of humble pie. The Falcons dominated the Saints offensive line and got 6 sacks. The Saints were not able to establish the run so ended up throwing time and time again. Although they had some joy through the usual suspects, they couldn’t compete with the score and only got 3 field goals. The Falcons were more clinical and dominated the clock leaving the Saints fans to wonder what had changed during the bye week. Following this defeat the Saints have won their next two.
So, what has changed from this game to now?
Well the Saints won’t be complacent in this one, that’s for sure. After the beat down they went on the road to Tampa and at home to Carolina and picked up two more wins. Sitting at 9-2 the Saints are looking to seal the NFC South, and with that claim a playoff berth, in November! The Falcons will want to stop that, especially in their “home” stadium. I mean, there’s normally more empty seats than fans but I’m guessing they will show up for this one.
On paper in terms of players, not a lot. The Saints should have Marshon Lattimore back from his recent injury, listed as questionable, as well as Deonte Harris (who is also questionable)in the return game, both of these players were involved in week 10.
The offensive line, which was destroyed by the Falcons previously, is banged up. Andrus Peat, Terron Armstead and back-up Will Clapp (questionable)will all miss this game so next man up is the aim of the game for New Orleans. Fortunately, Peat’s stand in, Nick Easton has been more than productive and hopefully will continue in this way. The Saints have been working out familiar offensive lineman before this game for some depth but I assume Patrick Omameh will fill the void. Ethan Greenidge who is usually on the inactive list may also be active for this one.
Drew Brees looks to be at full tilt now and can take the deep shots when required, if the receivers (not named Michael Thomas) could catch them, that would be great. They have score 34 in their last two games so that 9 points only really stands out from the schedule. Jared Cook is becoming more involved which is a bonus. Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara continue to do what they do on a regular basis.
If the Saints can do what they failed to achieve in the reserve fixture
- Establish the run
- Dominate time of possession
- Tire the opponents out
- Keep Brees upright – limiting all QB hits
- Be clinical in the RedZone.
They should come out of Atlanta with the win they require.
On the Falcons side of things, they could be without star receiver Julio Jones. With Lattimore potentially back, the Saints secondary can focus all of their attention to Calvin Ridley. Jones is down as “did not participate” on both Mondays assumed list and Tuesday’s injury report. He has been listed as questionable for the game. Knowing this match-up, I assume he will play but might not be at full strength, which would work well for a not 100% Lattimore.
Another player who is on the OUT list is Austin Hooper. A player who had some joy against the Saints in previous match-ups and gives the Falcons a physical option. He scored a TD in week 10 and was productive last season. Fellow tight end Luke Stocker is also on the DNP list meaning the Falcons may be thin at the Tight End position.
On a positive note for the Falcons, they should have Devonta Freeman back at near or full tilt. Freeman had some issues going in to the week 10 game and aggravated his injury but after getting 10 carries for 38 yards plus 10 yards through the air. The Saints run defense should be able to deal with his threat but you can never know in these head-to-head divisional games.
The Falcons defensive line has gone from 6 sacks at the Saints, 5 at the Panthers to a big fat 0 at home to the Buccaneers. Now, the Saints offensive line currently sits 7th in the NFL in sacks allowed whereas the Bucs sit 25th so something doesn’t add up there. Even with 2 starters banged up, the Saints will hopefully keep Drew off the floor long enough for him to control the offense and make plays.
Thanksgiving, primetime in a divisional match-up and on a short week. Anything can happen. I’m hoping the Saints learned from their mistakes of the first game and get the win here. They will need to be a lot more discipline than against Carolina as well, those penalty yards will severely cost them if it continues to happen.
I think Mr. Lutz may be required to take the pressure at the end here but without the cushion of overtime should he miss.
I just wana see the Saints players eating turkey after the game again.
Saints 23 – 21 Falcons