I spoke with John Hendrix, a well known and respected editor of a blog called WhoDatDish for the New Orleans Saints, and we exchanged some Q and A’s for the game on Sunday: Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints.
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The intense rivalry between the Falcons and Saints are a must watch for every NFL fan. They always seem to have an intense and breathtaking game in hand for us.
1. So the Falcons vs Saints showdown is coming up this Sunday, how do you think the game will play out? Who/What is the most important player/position for the Saints to win the game?
"Let’s face it. This is going to be as entertaining of a matchup as any. Am I saying that the game will come down to the final drive as it has in the past several contests? There’s a strong chance. I believe the difference here is going to be the turnovers. Let’s look at it like this….for the Falcons to win, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is going to have to throw everything and then some at the Saints offense. We all remember what happened in the 2012 meeting between the two at the Georgia Dome, which resulted in a Saints loss. For the Saints to win, they need to put the gas on from the very first snap, and never let up. Impact player for the Falcons would be Matt Ryan (obvious choice), and for the Saints would be Mark Ingram."
2. The Saints defense is led by Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette in which they combined for a whopping 24.5 sacks in 2013. They also have Curtis Lofton, Keenan Lewis, and Kenny Vaccaro. How do you think their defense will do? Do you believe the defense is just as good as their prolific offense?
"When you go from being the league’s worst to the one of the league’s top units in just a year, it sets the bar high. Am I expecting a top unit again? Yes, because Rob Ryan’s personnel only got better. Will it be fourth again? Not necessarily. I would just be happy with a Top 10 defense. The big focus for this year’s defense is all about creating turnovers. I’d look for some consistency before I give them the nod of being just as good as the offense."
3. Who do you believe is the most overrated player on the Atlanta Falcons? Who do you believe is the most underrated player on the Atlanta Falcons?
"Steven Jackson is overrated by far. The Falcons only hoped for Jackson to be some of what he was in St. Louis, but had a very disappointing season. What’s worse is the fact that Jackson has been hurt, again. With a questionable, unproven offensive line, it’s hard to believe Jackson will accomplish anything this year. I believe the underrated chap of the group remains to be Paul Worrilow. Many overlook Worrilow on first glance, but he was one of the lone bright spots on a bad Atlanta defense last season. Despite leading the team in tackles, and going over the century mark in that category (127), Worrilow still doesn’t seem to command the respect. Oh by the way, he’s an undrafted rookie free agent, something the Saints absolutely love to find."
4. Alright, let’s be completely honest in this one: Who has the better offense? Falcons, who has Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Steven Jackson, Roddy White, and Devin Hester or the Saints, who has the future hall of famer Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston?
"I’m trying to place all bias aside, but there’s a lot to love about the Saints’ offense. Just look at how many consecutive seasons the team has finished in the Top 10. Stats show that the Saints have the better offense of the two. Brees doesn’t need one particular receiver to shine, as he is notorious for spreading the ball around to many different receivers. We saw Matt Ryan struggle without the presence of Julio Jones last season, who was my personal vote for the recent All-NFC South Division team assembled on FanSided. I’m not a huge fan of Devin Hester adding to the Falcons offense, because I’d personally rather Harry Douglas."
5. The Saints lost Darren Sproles to free agency. How much will that have an impact on the Saints?
"Darren Sproles was able to create many mismatches, and was a huge part of the Saints attack. However, his targets went down as the season progressed, and we saw Pierre Thomas move into his role. Many believe that Cooks replaces Sproles, but Cooks is a true wide receiver, with Sproles’ like abilities. He’s in a category of his own. Pierre Thomas will do (and has done) a more than adequate job filling in."
I would like to thank John for his time to answer these questions, and although I despise the New Orleans Saints with every fiber of my being, you have to respect their ability to play the game of football.