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Talent Show: Comparing the Saints and Falcons for the 2018 Season

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Saints and Falcons have a rivalry that for the south is second to none. We say “28-3” they say “Big Ben right,” but these two teams are as close as you can get in overall roster talent. I don’t think any other divisional teams are so close in skill as these NFC south, which in turn makes it the best division in the league. It’s such a photo finish for me you have to break it down by group and the big thing is I project 100% health.

Offensive Line

This is a strength for both teams. The Saints in my opinion, are a top three unit both adept in run and pass blocking. When healthy they have I think the best bookend tackles in Armstead and second year right tackle Ryan Ramczyk. The Falcons counter with Jake Matthews at left tackle and Ryan Schrader over on the other side. The Saints guard tandem of Andrus Peat and Warford are countered by Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco of Atlanta. Alex Mack is one of the best centers in the league but Max Unger is very solid and as rough-and-tumble they come. PFF rated Atlanta second in the NFL last season while the Saints were at 9. The Saints however had 18 line combinations and Atlanta had only 6. Verdict: Push

Wide Receiver & Tight Ends

Julio Jones and Michael Thomas, two of the best, cancel each other out so we look at the rest. The Falcons have solid Mohamed Sanu and rookie Calvin Ridley as the starters with Austin Hooper at tight end, a very good group. New Orleans gets Ben Watson back after two years away which makes the tight end position very serviceable- unlike the abyss of last year. Ted Ginn Jr. had a nice 2017 season and if Cameron Meredith bounces back to become what he was this group can be great. Drew Brees and his accuracy makes this close. Verdict: Falcons

Quarterback

Child please, this isn’t even a discussion anywhere in the civilized world. Ryan is good Drew Brees is a first ballot Hall of famer. Verdict : Saints

Kicking

43 year old Matt Bryant and Will Lutz had basically the same field goal percentage but Lutz has more range. Thomas Morstead on tackling ability and toughness over Matt Bosher Verdict: Saints

Running Backs

Probably the two best tandems in football. Ingram and Kamara for New Orleans, Freeman and Coleman for Atlanta. Zach Line is very nice fullback but the difference may be the Ingram suspension. Verdict: Falcons

Defensive Line

Vic Beasley is scary on the outside and Grady Jarrett is formidable on the interior, Takk McKinley is a nice young piece as well. Newly married Cam Jordan is the best all around defensive end in football and they traded up for Marcus Davenport in this year’s draft. The potential of a Von Miller and Damarcus Ware could happen and the inside rotation is young and making strides all the time. Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata could be dominant soon. This is tough. Verdict: Saints

Linebackers

The athleticism of Deion Jones is quite amazing he has been a thorn in the Saints back since coming from LSU. Duke Riley, another bayou Bengal, along with DeVondre Cambell is as fast a group as there is. The Saints have addressed the lack of speed and signed Demario Davis and hope for a full year from Alex Anzalone but an easy choice. Verdict: Falcons

Defensive Backs

Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford versus Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley is as close as the talent of these two teams. Keanu Neal is a thumper at safety and has quickly become a top-tier guy. The Saints have upgraded with the best slot corner in the league Patrick Robinson coming back to the 504. Kurt Coleman a wiley veteran and ascending player Marcus Williams is hell bent on becoming great. Vonn Bell is also criminally underrated. Verdict: Push

Special Teams

I saw some statistics I can’t understand and they all say different things…. I think. Ask Tampa Bay about Alvin Kamara’s return ability although he may be too important to use him in that role. Verdict: Saints

Coaching

This is much like the quarterback argument, Coach Payton has a ring, Quinn blew a 25 point lead! Verdict: Saints

These teams are as even as you can get the biggest advantage for the Saints is number 9 and Coach Payton. The Falcons counter with a significant edge at linebacker and a slight running back (with an asterisk) lead. If you add Carolinas’ influx of young talent the last couple years it makes the NFC south a gauntlet of skilled athletes unmatched anywhere else in the NFL.