Prediction and Preview: New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons

Prediction and Preview New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons Featured Image

For the New Orleans Saints to clinch a wild card spot, they must defeat the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, a team they were unable to do back in November.

Despite going through four quarterbacks and ranking in the bottom five in total offense, the Saints (8-8) still have a shot at making the playoffs if they catch a break, such as the 49ers falling on the road to the Rams.

Match Preview: New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons

The Saints managed to scrape together a win last week, keeping their playoff hopes alive, but it won’t look like much on a season highlight reel. Taysom Hill had a solid but unremarkable game, and the Saints’ defense came through for them once again in their victory over the Panthers.

The Falcons (7-9) were likewise clinging to slim chances of snatching the final NFL postseason place last Sunday when they played in Buffalo.

Even though the Falcons had a one-point lead into halftime, the Bills came back with a perfect fourth and fifth quarters thanks to two touchdowns from Devin Singletary.

Therefore, Atlanta will play the final game of the regular season with nothing but pride and hatred to drive them.

The Falcons hold a slim 54-51 series lead, thanks mostly to their 27-25 home record. Despite the Saints’ dominance in the series over the previous three years, the Falcons took the earlier matchup between the two teams, played in the Superdome this season, 27-25.

Will the Saints be able to maintain their dominant defensive play?

The last four games have seen a New Orleans defense that has looked quite stingy. On average, they’ve given up eight points per contest.

Both Miami and Carolina have scored one on them, but that’s all they’ve managed to score. In that time, they’ve racked up 17 sacks, bringing their season total to 43, good for eighth in the league.

The defensive unit has benefited from Cameron Jordan’s recent resurgence. He didn’t get his first sack until Week 7, but he now has 11.5 on the season, which is the most of any Saint.

He also has a team-high two forced fumbles, putting him in a tie for first. With 12 tackles for a loss, he’s second only to Demario Davis.

Prediction and Preview New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons Post Image

Noteworthy, Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan has been under constant pressure all season long. As a result, he has been sacked at least twice in 10 of his 16 games played, making him tied for 13th most in the NFL.

According to ESPN, the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive line only has a 54% pass block victory percentage, which places them in the 27th spot.

Running game of the Saints and the rushing defense of the Falcons

The Saints have needed more from their rushing game due to the high turnover at quarterback and the season-long absence of wide receiver Michael Thomas. Recent performance has been lackluster, with only 72.3 yards gained per game on average.

Even now, Alvin Kamara is the Saints’ biggest threat to run the ball. Only twice in his 13 games played has he rushed for more than 90 yards.

While playing against the Jets after missing time with an injury, he racked up 120 yards. Over the past three games, he has averaged just 34 yards on 11-13 carries.

In recent weeks, Hill’s rushing plays have risen. In three of the last four games, he has had double-digit rushes. He is averaging 63 rushing yards per contest.

Three times in the squad’s last five games, he did not play in, he led the team in rushing.

Unfortunately, Atlanta has one of the league’s worst rushing defenses. The team as a whole is allowing an average of 127.9 yards per game, which is 26th in the league.

In addition, they’ve given up 19 running touchdowns (tied for 27th). The opposition has gained 133 first downs on the ground, second-most in the league behind only the home team (Chargers, 135).

How many Falcons players are questionable for this contest?

The Falcons are no longer in the playoff hunt. Therefore, they are more likely to be without their starting players for this match.

It’s possible that head coach Arthur Smith is interested in seeing some of the younger guys play. Some starters, especially seasoned veterans, may fake ailments to sit out for a while.

Kyle Pitts, a rookie tight end, is doubtful to play due to a hamstring injury. He has appeared in each of the 16 games. He’s started every game but one and is the team leader in receptions (66) and receiving yards (1,012). (1,018).

Notably, he can challenge Mike Ditka’s 60-year-old rookie tight end record of 1,076 yards, despite Ditka’s achievement of the mark in just 14 games.

Unfortunately, Calvin Ridley will not be back for the rest of the season. Since Week 7, when he announced he was taking a sabbatical from football to work on his mental health.

He has been on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list and has not played. He has only played in five games, but his 31 receptions and 305 receiving yards rank him seventh on the team (281).

It’s possible that Atlanta’s offensive line is short a few players, too. On the 30th of December, left guard rookie Jalen Mayfield was labeled as questionable, and tackle reserve Jason Spriggs was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Prediction: Saints 24, Falcons 14

Resulting Conclusions

In order to beat the Falcons, the Saints must stop thinking about other teams. They can’t afford to worry about the 49ers’ performance in LA.

They both begin at the same time, thus the Saints may still hope to make the playoffs regardless of the outcome of this game. What remains unclear is whether or not the Saints will be given any information about the other game while they are playing their own.

As this game approaches, the Falcons have only themselves to rely on for inspiration. They have the power to ruin the Saints’ postseason hopes. The current Falcons’ level of effort and enthusiasm in winning will be significantly influenced by how much this undervalued rivalry means to them.

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