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Count on the Saints-Falcons matchup to be competitive

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Count on the Saints-Falcons matchup to be competitive By Pat Kirwan | NFL.com There was a time when this game looked like a division contest that should have been a deciding factor in the NFC South race, pitting Saints running ...

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Old 12-10-2007, 07:16 PM   #1
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Count on the Saints-Falcons matchup to be competitive

Count on the Saints-Falcons matchup to be competitive

By Pat Kirwan | NFL.com

There was a time when this game looked like a division contest that should have been a deciding factor in the NFC South race, pitting Saints running back Reggie Bush against Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. However, none of the scenarios that were supposed to make this game a terrific matchup are currently in play. Both teams are out of the playoff picture, and the two star players will not be in uniform. Both teams are 1-3 in their last four games, with their single win coming against the reeling Carolina Panthers. Despite the downward trend for each team, this should be a competitive game.
Atlanta is making two big changes in its offense. Chris Redman will start at quarterback after coming off the bench last week and hitting 16 of 24 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Redman had been out of football for the three previous seasons, but he did play for coach Bobby Petrino in college. The other move is a long time coming. Backup Jerious Norwood is going to get more opportunities to run the ball. He is a very explosive young back who has a 6.4 yards-per-carry average and is capable of multiple 20-plus yard runs.
The Saints offense will have to find ways to compensate for the knee injury that will sideline Bush. Bush leads the NFL in receptions for a running back with 73 and is their leading rusher. In fact, Bush accounts for 37 percent of the entire Saints offense. Aaron Stecker and Pierre Thomas will handle the rushing duties with Bush out and Stecker will do his best to compensate for Bush's pass-catching abilities. In the end, it may come down to Drew Brees throwing even more than the 40 attempts a game he already delivers. The problem is, the Falcons are 13th in the NFL against the pass and the Saints are already leading the NFL in dropped passes by his receivers.
New Orleans has defeated Atlanta the last three times they have met, but things have changed for the Saints since that failed reverse against the Buccaneers last week. Atlanta believes it can build momentum for the 2008 season with a sweep of the December games.
Key matchups

1. Saints WR Marques Colston vs. Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall -- Hall sees himself as an elite cover corner and Colston is a possession receiver with size. Hall wants this to be a one-on-one battle all night long and add to his four interceptions. Brees has thrown 15 picks this year. I like Colston in the red zone.
2. Saints LT Jammal Brown vs. Falcons DE John Abraham -- Brees only gets sacked once every 44 pass attempts. However, without Bush to dump the ball off to, the QB could hold the ball a split second longer, opening up opportunities for Abraham to add to his seven sacks. Abraham has a unique ability to get under the pad level of the tackle and burst off the block. If Brown doesn't get low, look for Abraham to win this battle.
3. Saints Will Smith vs. Falcons LT Quinn Ojinnaka -- Smith is part of a defense that recorded three sacks the last time the Saints played Atlanta. Smith has not played up to his reputation this season, but he is facing a backup tackle and a third-string QB. Smith has to have a big night or he risks slipping into mediocre status. Smith has looked slow and has missed the explosive first step he had a year ago.
4. Saints CB Mike McKenzie vs. Falcons WR Roddy White -- White looked fantastic last week when he grabbed 10 balls for 146 yards. When I was at camp this summer, it was clear White was on the verge of being the player he is right now. White has four games to go to build on his 62 receptions and 14.8 yard per catch average. McKenzie took a 53 yard pick back for a touchdown last week and will look to jump a few Redman passes intended for White. I like McKenzie in this match up. McKenzie comes into week 14 as one of the top ball hawks in the NFL -- he has a combined 17 picks, passes defended and forced fumbles.
5. Saints SLB Scott Fujita vs. Falcons TE Alge Crumpler -- Crumpler can't practice every day but he will go on Monday night. He should be the "best friend" of a QB like Redman. Crumpler had seven receptions last week and has to deliver for the Falcons to win. Crumpler knows there will be changes after the season on this roster and needs to finish strong. Fujita is a good zone defender who reads the QB well and should make it tough for Redman to stick passes into Crumpler.
When the Saints have the ball

New Orleans has to play to its strength and that means the forward pass. Brees is a clutch passer who rarely gets sacked and distributes the ball well. The Saints have been fortunate to have one of the best third down situations in the league, averaging less yards to go in this critical situation than all the NFL teams except New England and Cincinnati. Without Bush, the third downs could be a little tougher to handle. The Saints also have a top offense that has their drives end up in a touchdown, while the Falcons are the worst in the league in this category.
The Falcons will play for the pass first and rarely drop a safety down in the box to stop the run. The Saints could generate some decent yards per rush in this game but Atlanta would prefer that to big plays down the field. Atlanta needs at least a turnover or two from if it wants to win this game. Brees has thrown 15 interceptions and fumbled six times this season, so the opportunities are there.
When the Falcons have the ball

Petrino has had enough of QB Joey Harrington and hopes Redman breathes some life into an offense that has averaged 14 points a game for the last month. The Falcons want to throw off of play action and Redman has played for Petrino in the past and will attempt to execute the plan. A deep passing attack needs two things -- a good running game to hold a safety and the protection to let the passing attack develop. We will see if it was Harrington or the scheme that caused 39 sacks in 431 passes so far this season. Redman doesn't have great escapability and he will take his hits in this matchup.
I am intrigued to see Norwood potentially get 20-plus carries against the Saints. One of the biggest off-season questions facing the Falcons will be the running back situation. Now is the time to find out if Norwood is a 'bell cow' back.
The Saints are playing their last division game and the defense has held division opponents to 18 points a game, so this will be a challenge for the Falcons.

New Orleans feels it is still in the hunt for a wild card and its remaining opponents have a combined record of 19-29. Without Bush at 100 percent, it has become a tall order. The Falcons are trying to finish strong, but to ask Redman to do it is another tall order. This game will be low scoring, but the Saints behind Brees and his 11 career comebacks will pull this one out late to stay alive for another week.

Count on the Saints-Falcons matchup to be competitive

"We may have lost the game, but you'll be hurting tomorrow." Doug Atkins
hagan714 is offline  
Old 12-11-2007, 12:06 AM   #2
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Re: Count on the Saints-Falcons matchup to be competitive

well competitive went out the window a long time ago

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Old 12-11-2007, 09:16 PM   #3
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Re: Count on the Saints-Falcons matchup to be competitive

Good match up Competitive HA HA HA HA
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Old 12-12-2007, 07:52 AM   #4
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Re: Count on the Saints-Falcons matchup to be competitive

Low Scoring?
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