TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 13: New Orleans Saints At Atlanta Falcons

Saints
Falcons
Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints
Wild Card Playoffs - Atlanta Falcons v New York Giants
Quarterback
Winner Drew Brees is one of the elite quarterbacks in the league and he is once again on top of his game. He has one of the quickest releases of any quarterback and he is unfailingly accurate. He puts the ball in a position where his receivers can catch it in full stride and that’s why the Saints’ offense is so dangerous.
Winner Matt Ryan is an MVP candidate based on his explosive play this year. While he had an awful game against Arizona in Week 11, there is no lessening of the expectations in Atlanta. Ryan throws an excellent pass when he is on the run and he has surprisingly quick feet.
Offense
Winner As the season moves along, the shocking 0-4 start becomes a distant memory. The Saints have a deep offense that is often most dangerous on third down. Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Jimmy Graham can be an unstoppable combination. You must respect the Saints’ running game because it can pick up key first downs on short-yardage plays.
The Falcons know that Roddy White is among the most dependable receivers in the NFL. He can catch the ball on third down in traffic and then bust through arm tackles. Speedy Julio Jones has been slowed by an ankle injury, but he could be at top seed in this game. Running back Michael Turner is a hard-nosed runner who can take the pressure off of Ryan.
Defense
The Saints are one of the most generous defenses in the NFL, but giving up yardage is not an issue. They are more interested in generating takeaways than preventing opponents from marching up and down the field. Free safety Malcolm Jenkins and strong safety Roman Harper form an explosive duo who can give the Saints the takeaways they crave.
Winner The Falcons have had some problems against the run, but they should get a lift from Sean Weatherspoon who has been battling an ankle injury much of the last month. He should be healthy for this game. Defensive end John Abraham still has the speed to turn the corner on the pass rush and fellow defensive end Kroy Bierman excels against the run.
Special Teams
Winner The Saints are confident in their ability to make big returns on their return teams thanks to the speed and quickness of Darren Sproles. He has yet to bust a long one, but he remains a threat. Garrett Hartley is a decent placekicker who has only had 12 attempts this season.
Winner The Falcons know that they have a very good chance to put three points on the board every time Matt Bryant steps on to the field. He has made 24-of-27 attempts this season. Jacquizz Rogers is an explosive kickoff returner with a long return of 77 yards this season.

We'll Just Call it a Tie

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints Wild Card Playoffs - Atlanta Falcons v New York Giants

The Falcons know they are going to have a tough battle on their hands, but there is little doubt they will be prepared for the high-powered Saints. The Falcons suffered their first loss of the season against New Orleans and they would like to get some revenge here. Atlanta should have the biggest edge on defense and that should get them the win in this revenge spot.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: (FILES)This undated file photo shows US baseball star Jackie Robinson as he signs a then-record contract to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in New York. Robinson has been chosen to receive posthumously the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award Congress can bestow on a US civilian, 02 March 2005, for his accomplishments on the baseball diamond, as well as "his lifetime of breaking down barriers and his unending fight for justice," officials on Capitol Hill said in an earlier press release. US Senator John Kerry and US Representative Richard Neal, who co-sponsored legislation honoring Robinson, will be joined by the ballplayer's widow Rachel Robinson, US President George W. Bush and congressional leaders at the ceremony. Robinson broke baseball's "color line", becoming the first African American to play in the Major Leagues when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Officials in Congress said however that he is also being honored for his contributions to the broader struggle for civil rights. (Photo Credit: Mike Powell/Getty Images)
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  2. OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons signals to his team during their NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Quarterback  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints hands off to Mark Ingram #22 during the first quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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