Falcons vs. Saints: 3 Things to Watch in Week 11

Three things to watch as the New Orleans Saints battle the Atlanta Falcons from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Week 11.
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The New Orleans Saints (7-2) look to continue their six-game win streak against their NFC SOUTH rivals the Atlanta Falcons (3-6) Sunday inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Atlanta is coming off of their BYE WEEK and seek an upset over their arch-rival. Below are three things to watch in the NFC South's biggest rivalry.

Jameis Winston Begins his QB Re-Audition

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Like last season, the Saints will be without Drew Brees for at least a few weeks after suffering five broken ribs and a collapsed lung in Sunday's victory over the 49ers. A little over a year ago, Teddy Bridgewater began his starting quarterback re-audition, and this time it is Jameis Winston.

The former first overall pick joined the Saints this offseason to enroll into “QBU” and learn from QB Drew Brees and Head Coach Sean Payton. After weeks of studying, Winston's first exam is now time as he trots out to battle the Atlanta Falcons.

For Jameis, this stretch of starts, however long it lasts, is an opportunity to revamp his NFL career, whether it is in New Orleans or elsewhere. A solid stretch would result in a paycheck and a starting job in the NFL. If he wants to take a page out of the Bridgewater playbook, Winston needs to be himself, manage the game, make smart decisions, and rely on his playmakers.

Many believe Winston should be Brees' heir apparent and can return to Pro-Bowl form, myself included. His opportunity to “eat a W” and earn a contract this summer begins Sunday.

More Action for the Bayou Backfield

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It has been a quiet year for running back Latavius Murray. Offensive Player of the Year candidate Alvin Kamara has overshadowed Murray's contributions that have not gone unnoticed. However, that could soon change after the injury to quarterback Drew Brees expects Murray and Kamara to see more touches in Sean Payton's offense.

Transitioning to a new quarterback is never easy, especially in the middle of a season, but the Saints did so last year and heavily relied on the ground game. Without Drew Brees last season Murray put together one of his best games, rushing or over 100 yards and 2 TDs. Overall he saw an uptick in carries and continued to manage a 4 yards per carry average.

Kamara should expect nothing less than what he has already seen, being the Saints offense's featured part. With over 1,100 scrimmage yards and 11 TDs, AK has been the Saints MVP through the first ten weeks of the season and does not look to slow down. Fresh off of a hat-trick Kamara, and his partner in crime should look to carve up the dirty birds stout run defense.

Continued Success on Defense

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The New Orleans Saints defense has looked re-energized over the past two weeks with back to back performances of surrendering under 20 points. As Dennis Allen's group continues to grow in 2020, they will be counted upon more than ever over the next few weeks to keep games close.

With a change at quarterback and a different feel to the team's offense, the energy and swagger must start on the defensive end. Over the last two weeks, the Saints defense has forced five turnovers and allowed a 32% third-down conversion rate.

The defense's stout performances have given the Saints a new life over their six-game winning streak. Whether it has been a game-winning tackle, end-zone interception, or a start to finish a well-rounded game, the defense's swagger has set the tone week in and week out. In this matchup against their biggest rival, the Saints defense will need to set the tone and help the team advance to 8-2.

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