Atlanta Falcons Vs. New Orleans Saints what to watch for
Every one of these games is usually rather close and many expect this one to be the same, including myself. It's going to take a little something "extra" by one team in order to pull out the win and it's all going to boil down to who does that best.
What to watch for:
Reggie Bush is not in there for the Saints due to a broken right fibula which means the black and gold is going to somehow have to find a way to replace his production. Even more important then replacing his production is somehow replacing his presence on the field. Bush could draw the attention of an entire defense and not even come close to touching the ball on a play. That opened things up for Pierre Thomas to run or Drew Brees to find an open receiver.
Stepping in for Bush will be the newly re-signed LaDell Betts along with a returning rookie Chris Ivory. While it's true that neither has the speed or explosiveness of Bush, they both still bring good things to the offense. Betts is still coming back from an injury but he showed flashes of his old self during the preseason before being cut on final cut-down day. Ivory hasn't played yet this season but Saints' fans got a taste of what he could do in the preseason and are really excited about this young player. I'm not so sure other teams realize just yet what he can do, but they're to find out very soon.
As for Bush' injury, he wasn't in a cast on Friday which surprised many people. When asked about how long he'll be out, he responded with, "It's frustrating, but it'll be less time than everybody thinks."
Roddy White is by far the best wide receiver on the Falcons' team and he is a dangerous one at that. In the first game against the Steelers, White had 13 receptions for 111 yards. Game two's blowout over the Cardinals saw White haul in 7 receptions for 78 yards and 1 touchdown. He is not one of those receivers that merely needs a spy keeping an eye on him every now and then. Someone in the Saints' secondary is going to need to stick to him like glue throughout the game and that responsibility falls upon cornerback Jabari Greer. An interesting little tidbit I had heard earlier this week is that Greer only gave up one touchdown reception last season and that one reception was...to Roddy White.
The Saints won't have to worry about running back Jerious Norwood as he is out with an injury. Starting running back Michael Turner is coming off an injury so he won't be up to full speed, but as always is very dangerous. New Orleans will still have to be on top of their rushing defense though because third-stringer Jason Snelling fills in just as well as if he was the starter for the Falcons. After getting things turned over to him against the Cardinals, Snelling ran for 129 yards, caught for 57 yards, and recorded 3 touchdowns. The Saints cannot afford to let another running back gash them like they have so far this year with Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore. An affective running game will do nothing but allow Matt Ryan to open up the passing game which can be very dangerous with White and tight end Tony Gonzalez.
Can the Saints finish drives? That is one of the biggest questions so far this season for the defending Super Bowl champions. The explosive offense has only showed up in small spurts and thankfully it did so on that final game-winning drive last Monday in San Francisco, but where has it been the rest of the time? Making matters worse is that the Saints are putting together some really good drives and building up the stats but then they can't get into the end zone and truly finish off with a score. Leaving points out on the field is what's making these games so close and tension-filled.
The running game won't suffer due to Bush's absence, but one might think the passing game will because no longer is #25 lining up in the slot and all over the field. New Orleans has one of the deepest wide receiving corps in the entire NFL and that means we should end up seeing a good bit more of Robert Meachem and Lance Moore. The Saints like to line up in three and four wide receiver sets quite often, but Bush was always in one of those spots. With his injury, expect to see the entire group of talented receivers on the field together all at once.
Read more including Danny Cox predictions for the final score
Reggie has been hurt before and PThomas carried the load just fine.
Ivory! can't wait.
I hope Moore gets some more loks
I expect to see Moore in the slot and more of Meachem and Henderson. Roby should really put up good numbers this weekend if he is returning both kicks and punts.
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