The Saints (8-8) clash with the Falcons (7-9) on Sunday afternoon, as the importance of a win for New Orleans cannot be overstated. The last NFC playoff position is up for grabs, and it's down to the Saints and 49ers. New Orleans must take care of business first, and hope that the Rams can break their five-game skid against San Francisco.
What to Watch For
The Other Game. The focus is getting to 9-8, as Sean Payton has mentioned plenty. However, you know there's going to be some wandering eyes regarding the scoreboard while the team plays.
"We're approaching this game on Sunday like it's a playoff game. That's what we can control," said Taysom Hill on Wednesday,
"Now, I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be peeking at the scoreboards when they come across on Sunday to see what that score is. So, everyone will be aware of it. We're aware of the situation and what needs to happen. But that will not distract anybody from doing what we have to do to put our best foot forward on the field and do what it takes to win."
Put Atlanta Away Early. Again, getting into the postseason won't matter unless the Saints win and the 49ers lose, and the way to approach this game would be to take Atlanta out early. The storied rivalry could end up being more of a black and gold affair at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which wouldn't be surprising. New Orleans is going to have to figure things out offensively, and a lot of that hinges on the offensive line, running game, and Taysom Hill.
Stopping the Usual Suspects. Matt Ryan looked outstanding against the Saints defense in Week 9, going 23-of-30 for 343 yards and 2 touchdowns. Atlanta did a great job getting up on New Orleans, having as big as a 24-6 lead. While the Saints did rally and took the lead late, it came down to one stop for the defense, and Ryan was able to deliver again.
Kyle Pitts has certainly evolved more from that game, while Cordarrelle Patterson continues to have a strong presence in their offense. Patterson crushed the Saints in their last meeting, having 6 catches for 126 yards. Dennis Allen and company know who Atlanta keys on for success, and their game plan must be solid.
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