Co-Host of WWL's "SportsTalk with Bobby Hebert & Deke Bellavia," Weekdays 4-8PM
Deke: Take the points and the Saints this weekend!
by Deke Bellavia,posted Nov 11 2012 2:36AM
Things to look for in the Saints-Falcons game:
1. Back-to-back ground attack? The Saints are coming off a game in which they rushed for 140 yards on 25 carries for an average of 5.6 yards per rush. Atlanta allows a shade over 127 yards per game, which is 24th in the league. When breaking down the Falcons defense, stopping the run has been one area that they are not that strong in. If the Saints can rush the ball for 130 yards or more they will have a great chance at knocking off the Dirty Birds.
2. White-Ice gets hot! When it comes to QB/WR combo’s in the NFL, Falcons QB Matt Ryan and WR Roddy White are as good as any out there. White leads the Falcons with 709 yards and four TDs this season, and when the game is on the line, Ryan will look for his favorite target.
3. Keep safe and clean! Often you hear coaches and players say we played or we kept our QB clean, so I figured why not use that in my preview. The Saints need to play a clean game and they need absolute solid ball security. New Orleans has not been bad this season, currently being even in the turnover differential, but Atlanta is one of the best in the business when it comes to taking the ball away. The Falcons are 4th in the NFL at +10 in the turnover margin. New Orleans will need to be at least even in order to win the game.
4. Quick reminder – New Orleans just needs to remind these high-flying birds from the East that they haven’t done nothing against the Saints! Yes, their record states that they are 8-0, but these Dirty Birds have been dominated by the Saints. New Orleans has won seven of the last eight meetings between these two, and Falcons Coach Mike Smith is 2-6 vs. the Black and Gold. Hey, numbers don’t lie, and until the Falcons beat the Saints and win a playoff game, they will just be considered a good regular season team that can’t win in the post-season.
Big Chief’s Final Analysis
OK, the Falcons are looking forward to two meetings between themselves and the Saints in the month of November. Atlanta has been getting by as of late, but hey...a win is a win right? Atlanta can win this game, go 16-0 and be the top seed in the post season. But it’s in their head, my people!
This team will not get any love or respect until they win a playoff game. I can see the NFC shaping up like it did back in 2010 when the ATL was the #1 seed, and then got bounced in the divisional round in an embarrassing blowout loss to the Packers in the Georgia Dome.
Atlanta deserves to be considered the #1 team in the NFL right now, but I’ll ask you...would you place this team above the 49ers, Bears or Packers right now? Ponder that thought and get back to me.
Never buck a trend. The Saints will play hard and Curtis is ready to prove he made the right decision. Take the points and the Saints this weekend!
Atlanta Falcons (8-0) vs New Orleans Saints (3-5) - November 11, 2012 Noon Kickoff Mercedes Benz Superdome
Series History: Atlanta leads the series 45-40
Last week’s results: New Orleans beat Philadelphia 28-13 and Atlanta beat Dallas 19-13
What they are saying:
Atlanta Coach Mike Smith on former player Curtis Lofton: What were your thoughts about losing Curtis Lofton to the Saints? How did that affect your team’s defense?
“Curtis was an integral part to our success in our first four years here. The way that the league is set up, with free agency and everything, you’d like to be able to sign all of your players back but it’s just not possible. Curtis had been a leader for us and had done a very good job. Unfortunately, the way that the league is set up, guys are going to change teams. I miss Curtis. Curtis is a great man. He was a big part of the success that we had in our first four years. Unfortunately now we are on the opposite sides of the sideline.”
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan on the Falcons being 8-0: Being the only undefeated team in the league, are you starting to feel this could be a special season for you guys?
“We are halfway through the season and I think everybody’s focus is just to keep their head down, keep working hard and not worry about anything more than that. I think that is one of the reasons we have been successful in the first half of the season. It’s going to be important for us to keep doing that to try and be successful in the second half.”
Saints QB Drew Brees on the Falcons Defense and new coordinator Mike Nolan: How is Atlanta different defensively, having a lot of the same players, but having a new coordinator?
“I have a lot of respect for Mike Nolan. Mike Smith is really a great defensive coach as well. This seems to be a blend of their philosophies and kind of the best of both. Obviously the personnel are the same in any divisional opponent, (where) you’re somewhat used to the personnel. Every year there’s new wrinkles. Even though it’s a new system, everybody does their offseason study. They might acquire a guy here and there that brings a different strength. You definitely can see some new twists to what they’re doing. They’re playing extremely well.”