Drew Brees is expected to be back under center for the Saints in Week 4’s prime time game against the Cowboys. Image by Kelly Bailey [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

On to Week 6 we go and unfortunately, things do not get any easier. The New Orleans Saints (1-4) welcome the Atlanta Falcons (5-0) to the Superdome on Thursday Night Football tonight. The Falcons come in off of a thrilling overtime victory a week ago, while the Saints are coming off of one of their most embarrassing performances in the Sean Payton era. Today’s preview will be a tad abbreviated. Due to the short week and some away from the keyboard stuff, I am unable go as in depth as I typically like to. Regardless, I’m still going to have you informed on what to expect and who to watch for. Let’s get started.

Saints Offense vs. Falcons Defense

Saints Team Offense

  • Total offense: 387.4 yards per game (7th in NFL)
  • Scoring offense: 20.6 points per game (21st)
  • Pass offense: 302.0 yards per game (3rd)
  • Rush offense: 85.4 yards per game (29th)

Falcons Team Defense

  • Total defense: 366.4 yards allowed per game (20th in NFL)
  • Scoring defense: 22.4 points per game (15th)
  • Pass defense: 288.0 yards per game (29th)
  • Rush defense: 78.4 yards per game (1st)

Pass Offense

If there are any breaks to be had when enduring a rough start to a season and facing off against an undefeated team, the Saints may actually have one. Drew Brees has been sacked 14 times in his four starts, which is tied for 4th in the league. That’s with one less game. As for the Falcons’ ability to rush the passer, they have only recorded six sacks so far this year. They have struggled to get to the quarterback, leaving their secondary vulnerable, as you can see with their 29th in the NFL ranking. Terron Armstead is doubtful and Tim Lelito is out, so it will be another game at less than full strength for the line. Jahri Evans does look set to return after missing the past three games, so hopefully he can help Max Unger in the middle. Brees and the offense’s ability to throw with success will come down to the Saints protection and the Falcons pass rush. If the offensive line’s struggles continue, it could be another long game.

Rush Offense

The passing game will be even more crucial this week, because the ground game faces as stiff as a challenge as there is. With Atlanta ranked 1st against the fun and allowing less than 80 yards of rushing per game, it is tough to expect a struggling rushing attack to suddenly turn things around. The story line here is that the Saints are one of the worst a running the ball, while the Falcons are the best at stopping it. We discuss it pretty frequently, but early success from the passing attack would greatly benefit the run the game.

Saints Defense vs. Falcons Offense

Saints Team Defense

  • Total defense: 409.0 yards allowed per game (32nd in NFL)
  • Scoring defense: 28.6 points per game (T-29th)
  • Pass defense: 273.2 yards per game (23rd)
  • Rush defense: 135.8 yards per game (30th)

Falcons Team Offense

  • Total offense: 406.2 yards per game (4th)
  • Scoring offense: 32.4 points per game (2nd)
  • Pass offense: 280.2 yards per game (8th)
  • Rush offense: 126.0 yards per game (9th)

Pass Defense

Just like the Falcons, the Saints defense is struggling badly at getting to the quarterback. With only seven sacks this year, New Orleans is tied for 26th in the NFL. Three of those are from rookie Hau’oli Kikaha. He was relatively quiet against an All-Pro left tackle last week, so he should have a better chance of being involved in this one. Either he or someone else will need to be extremely active, because we all know what Matt Ryan can do with time to throw. Especially considering he has a monster wide receiver like Julio Jones, the Saints do not want to give him all night to find open receiver. Leonard Hankerson has also played a nice role in the Falcons pass offense this year, so look for him to do damage, as well, if the pass rush can not get to Ryan.

Rush Defense

There are no breaks to be had in this department. Sitting at 30th, the Saints are nearly the worst team in the NFL in stopping the run. We saw that last week as they gave up 185 yards rushing to a Philadelphia Eagles team who had been struggling to move the ball on the ground. Lining up on the other side of the ball tonight will be Devonta Freeman, who is tied for 2nd in the NFL with 405 rushing yards. He also leads the league with eight rushing touchdowns. Freeman has burst on to the scene in his second year, taking full advantage or being inserted in to the starting lineup following Tevin Coleman’s early injury.


Sean Payton and Drew Brees have a great track record against the Falcons. They’ve had more success in their tenure against Atlanta than both of their other two divisional opponents. Unfortunately, I have not seen anything on the field that gives me confidence in the Saints chances tonight, though. Picking the black and gold would merely be out of principle based off of this rivalry and how they typically have the upper hand. In this one, I just believe the Falcons are a much better team than the Saints. I believe Atlanta will extend their winning streak against New Orleans to three games, the largest in the Payton/Brees era.

Prediction: Falcons-27, Saints-17

That will do it for this one, folks. I hope you guys enjoy the game and be sure to comment and let me know what your prediction is!

Follow David Billiot Jr on Twitter @DCBilliotJr