After a tough loss to the Giants, the Saints are facing a must-win matchup against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football. The Falcons, on the other hand, are coming off a win against the Oakland Raiders. The game will have some added importance as it will mark the 10-year anniversary of the reopening of the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina.
Five Things To Look For
1) The Gleason Effect
Steve Gleason is arguably one of the most important and recognizable players in Saints’ history. Gleason is known for blocking a punt against the Falcons in the first game back in the Superdome 10 years ago, and he’ll be in attendance on Monday. Last year when he was in-house against the Falcons, Michael Mauti blocked a Falcons’ punt that looked very similar to Gleason’s. The Saints are desperate for a win and will look to capture the Gleason magic.
2) Saints’ Offensive Line
Left tackle Terron Armstead has been ruled out for Monday’s game; this is quite a blow as Armstead is undoubtedly the team’s best offensive lineman. The team signed Tony Hills, and there is a good chance he will replace Armstead at left tackle. Is it possible that the Saints move Andrus Peat from left guard to left tackle? Luckily for the Saints, the Falcons have only managed to sack opposing quarterbacks once thus far. If Brees is going to carve up the Falcons’ defense, he will need plenty of time.
3) Coby Fleener
Disappointing. That is the only word needed to describe Fleener’s performances against the Raiders and Giants. Fleener has been targeted 12 times, but he’s only managed to catch three of those targets. His timing still appears to be off with Brees, and his drop problems from Indianapolis have seemed to follow him. With Willie Snead battling a toe injury, Fleener needs to show up against the Falcons. There is no better stage for Fleener to explode on than Monday Night Football.
4) Saints’ Run Game
Last week against the Giants, the Saints had a measly 13 rushing attempts for 41 yards. The Saints must give Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower more opportunities. If the team can run the ball regularly, more opportunities will be given to the Saints’ wide receivers. Despite the importance of achieving balance, Drew Brees will be the reason the Saints win this one.
5) Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu
The injury bug has hit the cornerback position hard. The top four projected corners at the beginning of August: Delvin Breaux, Keenan Lewis, P.J. Williams, and Damian Swann, are all either on injured reserve, released because of injury, or out for several weeks. De’Vante Harris and Ken Crawley are seeing the field often as undrafted free agents.
Against the Giants, the Saints played with three safeties for much of the game. Three-safety sets proved to be rather effective as the defense didn’t allow a touchdown. Expect Vonn Bell and Kenny Vaccaro (if he plays) to be active in the slot. Hopefully, Dennis Allen can limit Julio Jones’ and Mohamed Sanu’s success.
- Drew Brees will throw for more than 350 yards. The offense won’t have much success running the ball and Payton will abandon it. Brees will need to carry the offense yet again.
- Vonn Bell will intercept Matt Ryan. Bell had a great game against the Giants. He was an active run defender, and he should have more opportunities in coverage against the Falcons.
- Julio Jones will catch for more than 125 yards. There is no doubt that Jones is one of the best receivers in the league. His size will make him tough for the Saints’ defensive backs to stop. Look for the Falcons to attack De’Vante Harris in the slot with Julio Jones.
- The Saints will win by a score of 35-24. Drew Brees and the rest of the offense are hard to stop in the Superdome, and Dennis Allen called a phenomenal game against the Giants. Although the Saints are dealing with plenty of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, Allen will find a way to stop the Falcons’ offense. The Saints cannot lose on the 10th anniversary of the Superdome re-opening.