The New Orleans Saints (7-2) march into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome without Drew Brees to battle their arch-nemesis the Atlanta Falcons (3-6) in Week 11 of the NFL Season. Without key contributors on both sides of the football, New Orleans will have to dig deep to continue their six-game winning streak. Below is the Saints News Network Krewe's keys to a Saints victory over the Falcons, Sunday afternoon.
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Secondary Play
Everyone's eyes are going to be on the New Orleans quarterback situation, whether it's Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston. Or both. While that's certainly important to the outcome of this game, my focus will be on the other side of the ball. The Saints secondary has played outstanding football over the last few weeks. Especially impressive was their performance against the Tampa Bay receiving corps two weeks ago, a unit that has four Pro Bowl quality pass catchers.
The secondary must be equally up to the task this week against the Falcons. Atlanta has the league's 2nd ranked passing attack. Quarterback Matt Ryan continues to be productive, and his favorite two targets are wideouts, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Jones and Ridley have 43 receptions each, for a combined 1,295 yards and 9 touchdowns. To make matters even more challenging, the Falcons have excellent depth at the position with tight end Hayden Hurst and wideouts Russell Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus. Without Brees behind center, the New Orleans secondary must continue their high level of play to avoid getting into a shoot-out.
Kyle T. Mosley
IT'S THE BIG HOMIES FOR ME. The Saints' offensive and defensive lines will be the keys to a win over the Falcons.
Very simple. Protect and Open! 1. Protect Taysom Hill and give him time to scan the field. 2. Open the lanes for Hill, Kamara, and Murray to rush through the porous Atlanta defensive line.
Next, since the defense will be without top cornerback Marshon Lattimore, the defensive line must take-up the slack for his replacement - which could be either CB Patrick Robinson or DB P.J. Williams. The pass rush must affect quarterback Matt Ryan early. He does not respond well with pressure in his face.
Also, stopping the run. The team's 52-game streak preventing having a 100+ yard rusher is in play. The key players collapsing the pocket and preventing the run will be defensive tackles David Onyemata, Malcolm Brown, Shy Tuttle, Malcolm Roach, and newly elevated Ryan Glasglow.
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Make It Easy On Whoever Plays QB
While Sean Payton is being coy about who will be starting at quarterback for the Saints, the fact remains that regardless of whether it's Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill, New Orleans needs to make this easy on them. Obviously, life without Drew Brees is not fun, but it's a storm the Saints can weather.
This a game where you need your defense to step up and help make shorter fieldwork, and offensively lean on your playmakers in Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara to move the sticks. Creating long possession drives could go a long way for Sean Payton's team, as they will undoubtedly be played tough by the Falcons. Special teams could be a huge underrated swing for New Orleans here.
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Let the Defense and Alvin Kamara Lead the Way
The defense has been the strongest link in the team this season. With some of the best defensive fronts led by Cam Jordan, it will be very difficult for Atlanta to score because the defense has allowed 76.8 yards per game. We will expect pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara to lead the way on offense. The Saints rank 4th in points per game, so while Winston is getting acquainted with all the powerhouse offensive weapons the Saints have this season, the Saints should be fine this week. They need to concentrate only on the team in front of them… one team at a time until Brees returns.
Biggest Key to Saints Victory: Let Taysom Be Taysom
I am not sure if I have ever been so intrigued to see how a Saints offense will take the field. Over the last 15 years, you knew what you were going to get out of the Sean Payton/Drew Brees led Saints. And though you can point to the five-game stretch last season when Teddy Bridgewater served as the starting QB and say we did not know what we were going to get, it is different today.
Taysom Hill has been a Swiss Army Knife, a player that Sean Payton adores. and a walking meme across social media platforms. This afternoon he gets his chance to show he is capable of being the next QB of the New Orleans Saints but with how unique Taysom is the key to victory this week is do not try to mold him into something he is not, let Taysom be Taysom.
It will be a different looking offense today, maybe one that only throws the ball 15 times and runs QB power 10+ times. The excitement and anxiety of knowing we will see a potential preview of life after Drew Brees makes this game more than worth the wait to see Taysom get the keys to the sports car. Now let's see how the kid drives it.
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