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The Atlanta Falcons at The New Orleans Saints: Thursday Night Football - Week 6

Updated on January 28, 2016

The Mercedes-Benz SuperDome

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The 1-4 New Orleans Saints host the undefeated (5-0) Atlanta Falcons in this Thursday's installment of Thursday Night Football. Whoever decided to make TNF a divisional experience has created one of the most fun weekly events in the NFL. Drew Brees and Matt Ryan will do battle once again, but with the Falcons having a new head coach at the helm, Dan Quinn. Quinn was the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks and led them to multiple Super Bowls with the help of the coveted Legion of Boom. The energy he has infused into the organization is the shot in the arm the struggling franchise needed. The players have taken to him and the defense is rolling. The Saints are still reeling after a disappointing and hectic 2014 campaign. With the Panthers and Falcons firmly atop the NFC South, the Saints are figuring out if they are retooling or rebuilding. This may be the last run for the Brees/Payton connection and if that's the case they look to go out with a bang.

Atlanta

QB
RB
WR
Matt Ryan
Devonta Freeman
Julio Jones
120/185 1456 yds 6 TDs 4 INTs
93 car 405 yds 8 TDs
43 rec 545 yds 4 TDs

Falcons QB Matt Ryan

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New Orleans

QB
RB
WR
Drew Brees
Mark Ingram
Willie Snead
113/170 1304 yds 6 TDs 3 INTs
68 car 261 yds 2 TDs
22 rec 381 yds 1 TD

Saints QB Drew Brees

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Offense

The Falcons offense hasn't been this well-rounded since the days of a young quarterback by the name of Michael Vick taking the field, handing off to guys like Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett. Who can forget Alge Crumpler? Well this year's Falcons look better than that. With guys like Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones having breakout seasons, and a healthy Matt Ryan feeding them the rock, they look unstoppable at times. Granted Julio has been prone to injury, and has had his ills the last two weeks, he looks ready to go against the Saints on Thursday. There has been a lot of talk about Roddy White's role in the passing game. There WILL BE enough balls to go around come Thursday. Devonta Freeman has been a touchdown scoring beast. He will score at least twice and I see Roddy White doing the same. There's no stopping this offense once they get going. Your best bet is to never let them get in sync. The Saints don't have the talent to do that.

Falcons RB Devonta Freeman

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The Saints offense has regressed quite a bit since its glory days. Back when Drew Brees was considered by most a top 3 quarterback, throwing for 5,000 yards, and making late round picks and undrafted free agents Pro-Bowlers. All gone. The rest of the division has caught up to them. Trading their best receiver in tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks for Max Unger in the offseason, hasn't worked very well for them so far. They haven't moved the ball on the ground as well as they'd hoped and haven't been in the endzone as often as in years past. But the season can turn around on Thursday. If Brees has one more miracle in his arm, now would be the time to use it. A win would bring them one step closer to .500 and be extremely vital to the divisional picture. With new receivers and some new looks, it's taken the Saints a bit too long to find chemistry in the scheme. Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead have played well this season, but former Heisman Winner Mark Ingram needs to chug those legs if the Saints want a shot at staying in it this week AND this year.

Saints WR Brandin Cooks

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Key Defensive Players

ATL
NO
William Moore
Hau'oli Kikaha
29 tckls 1 FF 2 INTs
27 tckls 3 sacks 2 FF

Defense

The Saints defense has yet to show up these season. This unit is still working out some kinks. Releasing Junior Galette and rebuilding the secondary behind Kenny Vaccaro is going to take time. There are a lot of veteran but the revolving door of players and fear of job security make it hard for this defense to gel and become something worth looking at. The defense needs a few first round picks and maybe a free agent or two before it becomes something to talk about. There is one young player worth mentioning that's not already a household name and that's Hau'oli Kikaha. He's taken the place of Junior Galette and done a nice job of it. He's constantly putting pressure on quarterbacks and leads his team in sacks. He has a few strips this season too so Matt Ryan and that offense need to secure the ball or an upset may be in the making. The Saints are the worst defense in the league statistically and that should show against a great Falcons offense.

Saints S Kenny Vaccaro

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The Falcons defensive unit has been sneaky good against the run. They're actually the number one ranked rush defense allowing only 78 yards per game via the handoff. They have a great nucleus of good, young, talent who are starting to know each other's tendencies and play well off of each other. That's clearly a testament to the knowledge and energy brought over by Dan Quinn. Rookie Vic Beasley has played well early in the season and leads the team in sacks. The pass rush could use a bit more oomph, especially in a game against Drew Brees. The secondary gives up a lot of passing yardage, but if you look through the numbers, is actually getting sneaky good. Desmond Trufant is looking a lot like his big brother Marcus out there. I see Pro Bowls in his future. Having a guy like William Moore playing safety behind him, gives him leeway to jump some of those shorter routes. The Saints WILL pass and it will be on the shoulders of the pass rush and the secondary to hold it down.

Falcons DE Vic Beasley Jr.

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Outlook

Under Sean Payton and Drew Brees, the Saints will always fight and be competitive. What we've seen the past couple seasons is that that mentality doesn't guarantee victory. The Falcons have in recent history, been great in the regular season and terrible in the playoffs. Will this be the year they get over the hump into the big game? Is this the coach? Will they even win the division? The Falcons have bigger questions regarding their season because there are greater expectations. With that being said, it's time for them to solidify themselves as Super Bowl contenders A divisional win on the road all but eliminates the Saints from playoff contention while placing the onus of keeping pace solely on the Panthers. I believe the Falcons come back from halftime and runaway with this one. Brees taps into whatever magic he has left to bring his team back close, but not close enough.


ATL 31

NO 24

*TNF*

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