When the clock hit 0:00 on the 49ers game, it instantly became Falcons Week for many Saints fans. Of course, that's not to dismiss what transpired during the game, which saw New Orleans improve to 7-2 on the year, but lost a lot its gleam due to the Drew Brees injury. Fresh off the bye week, here comes Atlanta in what will be an important NFC South game for Sean Payton's squad.
What to Watch For
Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill? It looks to be the Jameis Winston show in New Orleans, but that doesn't mean we won't see a lot of Taysom Hill in the mix. Brees is likely out for several games, with him seeking a second opinion on the prognosis of his injury. This is a tremendous opportunity for Winston, who took a very light deal to be with the Saints in hopes of better himself as a quarterback and leader.
Winston has pretty good numbers against the Falcons in his career, but is 4-5 against them. He didn't look the best in relief of Brees in the second half against San Francisco, but neither did Teddy Bridgewater when he was put in a similar situation against the Rams last year. Winston should be the guy, but it's something we'll just have to keep a close eye on.
Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. No matter the quarterback, the best way to help move the ball is through last year's Offensive Player of the Year and a serious contender for the league's MVP this year. The Saints defense also needs to step up some here to help make it easier on Winston and company, but we're also talking about a quarterback who is no stranger to starting and quarterbacking his team. Feed Kamara, lean on 'Can't Guard Mike', and it'll make the day a lot easier for New Orleans.
Overall health of the Saints. This team was very healthy entering the game against the 49ers, but got really banged up during it. Aside the Brees injury, we were most worried about Marshon Lattimore (oblique) and C.J. Gardner-Johnson (elbow/arm). Ceedy Duce said in his postgame interview that he was 'good', and was at practice on Wednesday. Lattimore was limited, as well as Malcom Brown (calf).
Offensively, the Saints were without Josh Hill and Tre'Quan Smith due to concussions, while Ryan Ramczyk (knee) and Alvin Kamara (foot) were limited in the first practice. It may not seem like a big deal, but Sean Payton has mentioned before how much things revolve around Josh Hill, so his absence might be more concerning that Tre'Quan Smith's.
The rivalry. It's one of the NFL's most underrated, but it's increasingly grown in popularity. Despite a 3-6 record, the Falcons still pose a big threat to the Saints. Last year saw a poor Falcons team come in to the Superdome to shock and awe the Saints, handing them a 26-9 loss. Of course, New Orleans got revenge on Thanksgiving. Payton has won four of the last five against the Falcons after losing three straight. Overall, he's 18-8 (.692 winning percentage) against Atlanta. No matter what the records say, this will always be a tough game with lots of pettiness.