Week 10: Atlanta Falcons At New Orleans Saints
- QuarterbackThe Falcons will go as far as MVP candidate Matt Ryan can take them. Ryan has played sensational football this year, but he knows that he won’t be able to join the list of elite quarterbacks in the NFL until he starts winning playoff games. Ryan can’t do anything about that right now, but his consistency thus far has been noteworthy.The Saints have struggled quite a bit this season, but you can’t find too much fault with the way Drew Brees is coming. Brees is smaller than you want your quarterback to be, but he excels at putting the ball on the money and into the arms of his receivers. Brees has excellent velocity on his throws, buys time with his feet and an indomitable attitude.
- OffenseThe Falcons don’t put it all on Ryan to make things happen by himself. Michael Turner is a power running back who can take the pressure off of the passinggame. Turner has rushed for 517 yards through the first half of the season and he can also block and help out as a receiver. Roddy White is one of the most prolific receivers in the league, Julio Jones can stretch the field and veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez is still dependable.The Saints can move the ball up and down the field. Despite their poor start, they are still a formidable offensive team. Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram are a punishing duo at the running back position. Marques Colston continues to be a consistent threat as a receiver. Lance Moore is one of the most underrated players in the league because he can always get open.
- DefenseThe Falcons come at you with speed and aggressiveness on the defensive end. Defensive end John Abraham can turn the corner and get after the passer. He has recorded 7.0 sacks through the halfway point of the season. Sean Weatherspoon is smart and strong. He leads the Falcons in tackles with 53 and his hits are punishing. Safety Thomas DeCoud is a difference maker who has 39 tackles and 4 interceptions.The Saints have been disastrous on the defensive side of the ball. They have given up at least 400 yards in all eight games thus far, something no other NFL team had surrendered in league history. Defensive end Cameron Jordan leads the team with 6.0 sacks. He sacked Eagles QB Michael Vick three times in the Week Nine victory.
- Special TeamsThe Falcons are getting improved play from return man Jacquizz Rodgers, who has a 77-yard kickoff return to his credit and looks dangerous every time he gets his hands on the ball. Placekicker Matt Bryant has made 20-of-22 FG attempts this season.The Saints are getting a lot of production from punter Thomas Morstead, who is averaging 51.2 yards per boot this season and has dropped 11 of 36 punts inside the 20. Garrett Hartley has made just 2-of-5 field goal attempts of 30 yards or longer.
The Falcons made it through the first half of the season with an unbeaten record, but this is not a team without flaws. Ryan is often under pressure and the offensive line is going to have to improve if the Falcons are going to fulfill expectations. While the Saints aren’t going anywhere this season, they still have an explosive offensive team.