Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints: Under the lights, who comes out on top?

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Dec 21, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) gestures from the field against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I recently spoke with John Hendrix of Who Dat Dish, which is our FanSided affiliate that covers the New Orleans Saints. It’s great to be able to get a Saints perspective on the Falcons-Saints rivalry and how this game will play out. Here’s the five questions I asked him.

Drew Brees received a lot of criticism during the offseason, but how would you rate his performances through five weeks?

JH: It seems like everyone knows about Drew Brees. We’ve heard everything from him being washed up, clearly past his prime, totally declining, and who knows what else. I’ve witnessed two bad games from Brees now (Tampa and Philadelphia), and while I don’t believe his arm is the sole cause of things, statistically he’s played average.

He has to do a better job of taking care of the ball, and the offensive line has to give him the time. He’s on pace for 53 sacks this season, and questionable and predictable play-calling have been a major issue for the team.

What’s been the problem on defense for the Saints, and how can they fix it moving forward?

JH: Last week’s game was a simple case of an ineffective offense. The Saints defense did very well in the first half, holding the Eagles on a couple of fourth downs and getting two interceptions. However, it was a much different story in the second half, as the defense was scored on every single drive. The offense would give the ball back to the Eagles in just a couple of plays, and suddenly you put a tired unit on there.

Overall, this unit is suffering from a severe lack of pass rush, and the fact that they lead the NFL in defensive penalties doesn’t help. Also, tight ends are having a field day on Rob Ryan’s defense. In order to fix anything, they’ll need to dial up more effective blitz calls and stop missing tackles.

Next: What should Falcons be most concerned about?