The Atlanta Falcons won the NFC South with one week to go and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost two games in a row and are now eliminated from playoff contention. The Falcons are now playing for a first-round bye and a win over the New Orleans Saints would give them a great chance at that goal.
New Orleans Saints Season Record
The New Orleans Saints are finishing another disappointing season. They sit at 7-8 and need a win over the Atlanta Falcons to avoid finishing with their third straight losing season and fourth of their last five. It has been a hard fall for the former Super Bowl contender.
New Orleans Saints On Offense
Drew Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NF,L but it seems the New Orleans Saints have remained intent on stripping him of all his best weapons. All Brees needs is 142 yards passing against Atlanta to hit 5,000 yards passing for the fifth time in his career. He has thrown 35 touchdown passes on the season with 14 interceptions and is still the reason the Saints win games.
Brees is throwing to a mostly young receiver corps. Third year receiver Brandon Cooks leads the team with 1,154 yards on 75 receptions. Rookie Michael Thomas leads the team with 82 receptions and also has 981 yards. Both those players lead in touchdown receptions with eight each. Second year receiver Willie Snead is also in the mix with 69 receptions for 813 yards and four touchdowns.
Mark Ingram has had a decent year and will break 1,000 yards for the first time in his NFL career if he runs for 60 yards in this game. Tim Hightower has also re-emerged this season after injuries almost ended his career. He has run for 519 yards and has three touchdowns this season. The Saints have the offensive power to win games.
New Orleans Saints On Defense
The reason the New Orleans Saints lose games is their defensive woes. They rank 25th in the NFL in total defense and 30th against the pass. The Saints give up 270 passing yards per game. Matt Ryan has thrown for 4,613 yards this season and will torch this defense. This might end up as a shootout since both teams have top three quarterbacks this season, but the Saints defense is just so much worse. New Orleans has given up 65 points in their last two games, and won both.
New Orleans Saints Players To Watch
Drew Brees – Brees has thrown for more passing yards than anyone in the NFL this season. He is able to win games on his own and he will have to against a Falcons team that will dominate his defense.
Brandon Cooks/Michael Thomas – Combined, these two young receivers have 156 receptions for 2,135 receptions and 16 touchdowns. If the Saints win, they will have to keep up with Atlanta and these two guys are the keys to that goal.
There is little chance that the New Orleans Saints win this game. With the Detroit Lions losing to the Dallas Cowboys this past weekend, Atlanta will get a first-round bye in the playoffs if they win. If they lose, they have a chance of dropping that honor to the Seattle Seahawks depending on how they play. This is a must-win for Atlanta to secure their spot.