After a big NFC South win over the Buccaneers, the Saints (5-2) are looking to get another and keep a midseason stride going with the Falcons (3-4) coming to town in Week 9. It's hardly a secret, but these two teams don't like each other. Sean Payton is 20-8 against Atlanta, and New Orleans has won the past three matchups.
Here's a few things we're looking at ahead of Sunday, as the Saints will have to overcome the odds and adversity once again.
What to Watch For
The Quarterback Shuffle. Jameis Winston is lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL and having MCL damage on Sunday, which means we're turning to Trevor Siemian for the foreseeable future. Taysom Hill could return this week after being out of action for weeks from the concussion sustained in Week 5 against The Washington Football Team, and even when he returns, his role is uncertain. Just remember that if the game were tomorrow, Siemian would be the starter with rookie Ian Book backing him up.
The Saints could end up adding someone, most likely to the practice squad, but not being active for the trade deadline echoes Sean Payton's belief in liking the quarterback room he has. A lot can certainly change for the team with 10 games to go, but Siemian under Payton is a lot more desirable than many of the other situations the veteran has been in before.
How The Saints Attack. While whoever plays quarterback is the big question for New Orleans, the game plan against Atlanta is a bit intriguing. They're coming off a game where they were able to find some success against the league's No. 1 ranked run defense. Getting Mark Ingram back proved to be a huge move, and the Boom and Zoom combination with Alvin Kamara could give the Falcons fits.
Atlanta is giving up 125.1 yards/game on the ground, which comes in at 26th in the NFL. Leaning on a very stellar offensive line should take a bit of pressure off Siemian, but it was a bit surprising to see him airing it out as much as he did against Tampa. He had 29 attempts, while Winston had 10. Collectively, that's the most attempts we've seen from the Saints all season.
Make Matt 'Flat' Ryan. After doing some research, and checking again to make sure it was absolutely accurate, would you believe it if I told you the Saints have sacked Matt Ryan 36 times in the past four seasons? New Orleans had 11 sacks on him in 2020, 10 in 2019, 9 in 2018, and 6 in 2017. Furthermore, those 36 sacks represent 19.2 percent of the team's collective output from a four-year span of 187. If you were curious, Cam Jordan has 13 of those 36 sacks.
Overall, the Saints have put Ryan on the ground 63 times in 25 games played, with Atlanta going 9-16 in that span. Nothing else really needs to be said, but getting after Ryan with a fairly full strength pass rush will go a long way for New Orleans like it usually does.
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