November 11, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) dunks the football over the goal post after scoring against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
It’s officially game week. The Falcons are game planning as we speak. It is never easy to play the Rival Saints. Especially in New Orleans. (Actually it used to be, but that’s neither here nor there) But I don’t believe that New Orleans will be able to pull out a win this time.
- The Defense has gone nowhere. Last Season, New Orleans ranked dead last in defense. They were horrible. Historically bad. Now they have switched to a 3-4 and haven’t had the personnel to really shine in a 3-4 quite yet.
- Injuries galore. Jonathan Vilma is injured. Will Smith is injured. Everyone is injured. The 3-4 defenses life blood is the linebackers. The saints are now running on reserves and the season hasn’t even started yet. They won’t be able to get sufficient pressure on the quarterback.
- The run game. Atlanta finally has a running game. Last season the saint ranks dead last in run defense. This year they switch to a system that doesn’t do very well to stop the run. I’d be shocked if Steven Jackson didn’t get 100+ yards against New Orleans.
- The secondary. The Saints weren’t the best at coverage. They used their first round pick to (no, they didn’t get a 3-4 linebacker or a 3-4 defensive end, or a nose tackle.) they got a safety. I’m sure he’s doing alright, but they aren’t spectacular. They need to be able to take on the likes of Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez. They won’t be able to cover everyone and still apply pressure.
- Drew Brees is in his decline. I would never go as far as to say that Drew Brees is a bad quarterback. I wouldn’t even say he’s less than good. But his days as a great player are over. You can blame problems on your head coach not being there as much as you want, but Drew Brees (not the head coach) threw five interceptions in Atlanta last year. He can’t carry the saints anymore.
- Matt Ryan is reaching his prime. Ryan is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s getting better each year and in the second year of Dirk Koetter’s offense, he should shine even brighter. He should be able to pick the secondary apart and have a lot of time to do so.
- Nolan is where nightmares come from. Mike Nolan really likes to make looks that confuse the quarterback. Each player is very versatile and the quarterback doesn’t know what to look for. There will be turnovers in this game.
- Getting pumped up. The Atlanta Falcons are ready for a Super Bowl run. They know what they are capable of. They want to beat the saints. They are taking this game very seriously and the saints just won’t be able to keep up. When the Falcons get excited about a game, it is very difficult to beat them. they want revenge from the last time they traveled to the Superdome and they won’t settle for anything less than victory.
- History is on our side. Not only do the Falcons have a decently sized lead in the series, the Falcons have never lost in the season opener to the saints. In Fact, none of those games have even been close. It doesn’t really count as a reason they will win, I just like to point it out.
- Simply Better. We can pull up all the little parts and pieces that make both teams win. But this year in particular, the Falcons are simply better. They have a better passing game, a better running game, a better defense in all areas. Even with the big weakness at right tackle, they don’t have the tools to beat Atlanta. This is Atlanta’s time. New Orleans’ time has passed.
There are many reasons more. I haven’t even gotten into Tony Gonzalez’s last ride, the improved run defense, the new schemes and julio’s best year yet. There are too many reason why Atlanta is better compared to the New Orleans and their only explanation of “Sean Payton is back.” It won’t be easy and I’m not going to predict a blow out, but I will eat my hat if the Falcons lose the season opener.