Dec 21, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive end Osi Umenyiora (50) celebrates following a interception by cornerback Robert McClain (not pictured) during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Falcons won 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
FB: What will the Saints need to do to beat the Falcons?
JH: These two play competitive contests, and it usually comes down to the final drive or some pivotal moment in the game that decides a winner. The Saints will need to get on the Falcons early, and rely on their defense to disrupt Matt Ryan. Last year, they were always a half second too late, and the Falcons offense knew exactly how to attack the defense. I look for that to change drastically this year.
FB: Flipping it the other way, how do the Falcons beat the Saints?
JH: Like they did last year. Jump on them early, take advantage of mistakes, and completely disrupt the tempo. Credit Bryan Cox for working wonders in their final meeting. It was a real anomaly seeing the Saints being swept by the Falcons last season. That’s something that hadn’t happened since 2005. It was a giant wake up call to the team and fans.
FB: Is it possible the NFC South could feature two playoff teams?
JH: You can’t rule out Atlanta and Carolina right now. The Panthers have a stellar defense returning to action, and the team finally invested in some offensive line help. Atlanta is really going to have to see what Dan Quinn brings to the table for a horrid defense. Like New Orleans, their offense isn’t really the question, they just need to be able to put something respectable together on defense.
It’s hard to suggest that the league’s worst division in football last year could field two playoff teams with strong presences like Green Bay, Dallas, and Seattle likely to represent the NFC again. However, the NFC South teams all have motivation to shock and awe.
FB: Finally, who’s winning the ‘South?
JH: Surely we’ll differ on this opinion, but I can see the Saints and Falcons battling it out in Week 17 for the division. I like the black and gold’s chances of getting there this year.
I’d like to thank John for giving up time to speak with us. When scouting the enemy, be sure to visit Who Dat Dish, they provide excellent coverage of the New Orleans Saints over there. We’ll hopefully speak with them some more throughout the season.