The New Orleans Saints take on a team that they should seemingly rout in the Atlanta Falcons that actually provide more of a test than fans may think.
The New Orleans Saints are riding a seven-game winning streak and are coming out of the bye week with a perfect start to the second half of the season against the Atlanta Falcons. Not only are the fans excited for the rivalry game, but the game itself seems like it will be a breeze.
The Atlanta Falcons have been awful this season. The team has been poor from top to bottom and enter this game with the reverse of the Saints’ record, a 1-7 record.
While it is not surprising that the Falcons are not a playoff-caliber team, it is surprising that they have been this bad this year. The Falcons certainly still have talent—they have a quarterback who was an MVP not too long ago and some playmakers to go along with him.
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Quite frankly, it has been the defense. The defense has been terrible for Atlanta and the head coaching has been equally as bad, leveling out the talent the team does have on the offensive side of the ball.
Despite all of this, the Falcons actually present what will be a truer litmus test of how good the New Orleans Saints defense really is. I don’t think there is any more denying that the Saints have a top defense, but it will be interesting to see how they play against an above-average quarterback.
The Saints have not really played many great quarterbacks this year, but to be fair, there are not many good quarterbacks in the league.
The Saints have played a rookie in Kyler Murray, Mitchell Trubisky, Gardner Minshew, Jameis Winston, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Jared Goff and Deshaun Watson. Watson and Wilson are the only above-average quarterbacks in that bunch and scored 28 and 27 points, respectively.
This is not to take away from anything that the Saints defense has done, but it is undeniably easier to lock down an offense when coming up against a quarterback that cannot beat you themselves.
As bad as the Falcons have been, Matt Ryan is still a good quarterback and he has targets to throw to in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Ridley may be the bigger threat of the two, as Marshon Lattimore has been good this season but the New Orleans Saints have been burned by a team’s second receiver already this season.
While the Falcons are far from a playoff team, the defense’s performance against Ryan will be a good appetizer to what will come in the playoffs. If they thrive then it will be even more proof that this defense is the real deal. If they are terrible, it should be a concerning sign.
It also does not help that this is going to be the Falcons Super Bowl and they are going to get up for this game more than any other game this season.