The Falcons and the Saints have had epic battles for it seems like eternity. Even when both teams weren’t looking so great, the games always seemed to have something more on the line than just a football game. You may say pride takes its part in that, or just the fact that they are NFC South rivals, but when you watch this game twice a year, the play seems to be elevated to a level that is fun to watch. When both teams are battling for the division and playoff spots, the stage is set for an instant classic.
There are so many similarities between these two teams. Let’s break down the offenses position by position to look at the players on the Saints to be nervous about and then the difference maker in the game at that position.
Player to be Nervous About– Darren Sproles! This flash of lightning has been scorching teams much like he used to do in San Diego. When he gets the ball he is like a frightened mouse scampering for his life across your kitchen floor. With his 5’6″, 190 pound frame, he is extremely tough to hit and bring down, and he is as elusive as any player in the league. Most bigger guys have trouble tackling him because he runs right under their arms, and if they try to go for his legs, he just side steps them as soon as they put their head down. Drew Brees loves to hit him for little dinks and dumps, and if he has just a couple good blocks, he can take it to the house. Falcons fans are hoping that Jacquizz Rodgers can become a very similar back for us, and I believe he is truly making strides toward that.
Difference Maker– Michael Turner! Especially since Saints LB Jonathan Vilma is out for this game, Turner should be able to get his pistons churning and break into the secondary. The Falcons have done a great job doing what they do best lately, and that is run the ball. Time of possession will play a huge role in this game, and in order to keep Brees and the Saints off the field, the Falcons will have to have a solid chunking running game that will also chunk down the clock.
Player to be Nervous About– Marques Colston! Earlier in the year I would have said Jimmy Graham, and I still believe he is someone to be very cautious about, but since Colston has come back from his injury, he has been dominating. Part of that is because the success of Graham, but another part of that is the fact that they have been occasionally lining Colston up in the slots. He becomes a tough match-up for Nickel corners and safeties. He is like a not so poor man’s Megatron with his size and speed, but if the Falcons play as well on him as they did Calvin Johnson for most of the game back in week 7, I think the Falcons can have some success.
Difference Maker- Tony Gonzalez! The reliable veteran must come up big in this game, and I believe he will. Gonzalez will now be wreaking the benefits of Julio Jones’ powerful week against the Colts. If the Saints try to cover him with one guy, Jones will destroy them. The Falcons passing game is starting to take form. Jones as the big play guy and Roddy White and Gonzalez as the possession receivers. White can stretch the field too, and when both Jones and White are bracketed by the safeties, look for Gonzalez to dominate the middle of the field (again, especially with Vilma out).
Prepare yourself for this epic battle of NFC South heavyweights. The team that wins this game will have the early upper hand for the division. As Falcons fans, we do not want to get stuck in this wild card race. This is the first big step toward winning the division, and the Falcons must take care of business as home in divisional games. Who do you think will make the biggest difference in this match up? What do you think the keys are to the game?
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