3 Atlanta Falcons that must improve to upset the New Orleans Saints

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3. Ryan Nielsen

A lot of credit was given to Atlanta's defensive coach for how great his unit played at the start of the season. The credit was well deserved just as the recent criticism is. Take away the missed tackles and poor situational defense and Atlanta finds a way to win at least one of the last three games. The division picture would look much different as would the tone of Atlanta's season.

This defense lost Grady Jarrett, that has shown up with this unit looking like the team we had last season. The secondary is unable to cover the amount of time needed for the pass rush to get home. Atlanta's biggest issue last season continues to be why this unit hasn't lived up to expectations.

Lorenzo Carter and Bud Dupree are great at chasing the play and setting the edge. However, neither player is an elite pass rusher or threatens the quarterback consistently. Atlanta is going to have to sacrifice their run defense at some point to bring in younger pass rushers or find ways to bring a creative blitz. It is a simple adjustment that Nielsen has failed to make in each of the last two games. Will that change against Derek Carr and the Saints?