Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At New Orleans Saints
- QuarterbackThe Falcons bounced back from their Week One loss with a solid road victory over the Oakland Raiders, who appear to be one of the league’s up-and-coming teams. Matt Ryan is a talented passer who can find open receivers downfield and he can also escape the rush. When Ryan feels the heat, he will turn the ball over and that’s a huge issue.Drew Brees is apparently impervious to the aging process. The 38-year-old quarterback is still an effective leader who can buy time in the pocket and then find open receivers. Brees has always been an accurate passer, but he also has the velocity to separate him from the majority of quarterbacks in the NFL. If Brees gets off to a good start, he is very difficult to slow down.
- OffenseThe Falcons have one of the best two-headed running attacks in the league with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Both of them are very difficult to bring down and can escape through the smallest of holes. Julio Jones (ankle) is one of the top three receivers in the league and he is capable of running through tackles after making the catch. Mohamed Sanu is a fine No. 2 receiver.The Saints don’t depend on their running game, but Mark Ingram has the power to break through small holes on the interior. Speedy wideout Brandin Cooks is one of the best big-play receivers in the early part of the season, and Brees will look for him against the Atlanta secondary. Tight end Coby Fleener can catch tough passes on third downs and keep drives alive.
- DefenseThe Falcons have had big problems on defense for years, and that continues to be an issue in the early part of the 2016 season. Even though the Falcons picked up a 35-28 victory in Week Two, they gave no indications that they would be able to slow down any of the better offenses in the league. Atlanta lacks the strength at the point of attack to get anything done on third-down plays.The Saints appear to be making serious progress on defense this season after a disastrous 2015 season in which they finished 31st in yards allowed. Defensive end Cameron Jordan has the speed to come around the corner, while Nick Fairley can get the job done rushing the passer from the interior. James Laurinaitis is a very solid tackler.
- Special TeamsThe Falcons have a chance to gain an edge with their special teams. Matt Bryant is one of the best placekickers in the game and he made 3-of-3 FG attempts in the win over the Raiders. Matt Bosher does a fine job of placing the ball and getting height on his punts.The Saints had a poor performance on special teams in their Week Two loss to the Giants. New York blocked Will Lutz’s second-quarter FG attempt and returned it for a touchdown. Thomas Morstead is one of the better punters in the league.
The Falcons came up with a much-needed win at Oakland, and they should have some decent momentum as they play their long-time rivals. However, the Saints are 0-2 and need a win in the worst way and they should be able to get it on their homefield.