Those of you who have been reading Da Chronic for a while know that we've got a great relationship with the writing team over at SB Nation's Atlanta Falcons blog, The Falcoholic, particularly head writer and my former blogging mentor, Dave Choate.
So whenever the Saints and Falcons face off against each other during the season, Dave and I usually get together, chat about our favorite NFL teams, then share our conversation with all of you. It's theraputic for us and educational for you.
Below is my first conversation with Dave this season. As usualy, please enjoy then comment.
Dave Cariello: I'm ready. Let's do this!
Dave Choate: That's a good reason. I will say this, though. At least we haven't lost to the Rams.
Dave Cariello: Ouch. Yes, this is true. But did you see how badly we kicked the Colts asses?
Dave Choate: I did. That was brutal. But I gotta say, this is the game of the season for the Falcons so far.
Dave Cariello: It's been good. The Saints are actually coming off of one of their best rushing performances in eight years. Most of that credit is probably due to the offensive line though. Honestly, I think they could do better if there was more of a dedication to running the ball by Payton and coaches, but still, they've been formidable when called upon.
Dave Cariello: The Chargers have a nickname now among Saints fans. We call them our 'farm team' because they've given us Drew Brees and Darren Sproles.
Dave Choate: If you were the Falcons defensive coordinator, you wouldn't have as awesome a mustache as Brian Van Gorder. But how would you stop Sproles as a receiver out of the backfield?
Dave Cariello: To be completely honest, I really don't how know you stop Sproles. No team has really been that successful at it. He's just always involved and he's always picking up at least decent yardage. I'd say he's probably most dangerous in the screen pass department. He hasn't been that impressive on kick and punt returns. What about the Falcons? Michael Turner is a big fear for Saints fans. What's the latest on him?
Dave Choate: He just looks rejuvenated to me. He's running all over defenses right now. Obviously he's useless as a receiver-or at least close to it-but Turner's gonna run all day.I'd say at least 25 carries. So it appears we have a runningbackoff.
Dave Cariello: Dude, I just checked The Falcoholic and it say's Jon Abraham missed practice. What's the deal!? Is he not going to play!? Please tell me he's not going to play!
Dave Cariello: There's a good amount of big name players on that injury list, actually. Tony Gonzalez, Sam Baker, Ray Edwards...
Dave Choate: Well, Baker's out. I think most of those guys will end up playing. But you're definitely catching them banged up. Which curdles me blood a bit.
Dave Cariello: Excellent. <Mr. Burns voice>
Dave Choate: How about injuries for the Saints?
Dave Cariello: Not too bad, really. Jonathan Vilma didn't play last week. We'll have to see where he's at this week. Mark Ingram didn't dress either and I think that will probably be the case this week. Other than that, I have to say, the Saints have been pretty lucky thus far this season with injuries.
Dave Cariello: How do you think the Saints defense can best shut down the Falcons offense, since you guys have an effective running game AND passing game?
Dave Choate: Stack up against Turner, without a doubt. And try to shut down Julio Jones.He's the most dangerous option in the offense by far.
Dave Cariello: And just let Roddy White go nuts?
Dave Choate: Well, that's the thing. I think you'd better take your chances with White. As good as he is, he's having a bit of a down year. And he probably isn't going to light you up for 130 yards on two catches like Jones did last week. Probably, anyways.
Dave Cariello: So you guys are all in love with Jones now, huh? You think he's going to have another great game? You guys were playing the Colts, ya know?
Dave Choate: I do. The thing is, he has the talent to do that to any team in the NFL. He's not exactly consistent yet, but do you want to take that chance, Cariello? DO YOU?!
Dave Cariello: Honestly, I think I might.
Dave Choate: Well, fair enough.We'll see what the Saints do. You know, I have a question about Breesus.
Dave Cariello: 11 inches. Wait...what? Sorry, I'd better let you ask the actual question before I start assuming.
Dave Choate: That's a terrifying answer. For so many reasons. So I'm going to pretend you never said it. Ahem...are his interceptions this year due to route running, poor decisions or bad luck? I ask because, well, you know Brent Grimes.
Dave Cariello: Oh, dear. This question might stir some $#!t in Who Dat Nation. Honestly, I'd say it's a little bit of both. A few passes have been completely the fault of his receivers. But Drew has definitely made a couple of bad decisions. His interception last week against Tampa Bay is up for debate. I would say his decision making is definitely not as bad as it appeared to be last year. And if his offensive line can give him plenty of time, that greatly reduces Drew's chances of making a poor throw.
Dave Choate: I should clarify, too, that I don't think he's throwing excessive interceptions or anything. Just curious to see if the Falcons could capitalize at all. It sounds less than completely promising.
Dave Cariello: The Saints are actually -1 in the turnover department this season, so the Falcons will certainly have a chance.
Dave Choate: So you're saying there's a chance? Because I've always wanted to say that.
Dave Cariello: There's always a chance, young grasshopper. Are there any new or young players on the Falcons that Saints fans might not know about but they should?
Dave Choate: Well, there's Matt Bosher.The team's new punter.He sucked earlier this season, but now he sucks less.
Dave Cariello: Ooooooooohhhhh.....
Dave Choate: Also! I'm sure you know the name Sean Weatherspoon. But he has been incredible this season.You'll definitely see him on Sunday. Same question, but in reverse. Since I'm a table turner.
Dave Cariello: I would say Jimmy Graham, but I think that secret is out.
Dave Choate: Yeah, he terrifies me.
Dave Cariello: Other than that, there aren't really too many new players making a splash. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas has really been coming into his own. If Vilma doesn't play, then Jo-Lonn Dunbar could be a factor. Sophomore cornerback Patrick Robinson has shown lots of improvement and might break out one of these games, also.
Dave Cariello: Well, with Tracy Porter questionable, Robinson would certainly be the better bet over Jabari Greer, who is having a pretty damn good season.
Dave Choate: Back to the drawing board, then. Like I said, though, you'll probably see a lot of Turner.
Dave Cariello: You and Mike Smith better re-think the game plan.
Dave Choate: Yeah, I'm planning on it.
Dave Cariello: Okay, one more question before getting your prediction. It's not even a question really.
Dave Choate: Shoot.
Dave Cariello: Complete this sentence: Every time the Falcons _____, I want to stab my eyes out with a dull object.
Dave Choate: Run the ball up the middle three times in a row.It's the bane of my existence.Because it so infrequently works
Dave Cariello: Nah, it's never all rainbows. I would say what is most frustrating is when the Saints defense gives up big yardage on short underneath or screen passes. It's also frustrating to see Pierre Thomas and the other backs run well but not get used effectively.
Dave Cariello: Truer words were never spoken. Okay, let's close this out with a prediction about the game from you.
Dave Choate: My prediction is that the Falcons take this one. I'll say 27-24, because they're always damn close.I imagine you won't concur.
Dave Cariello: I like the score prediction. Except you've got it reversed.
Dave Choate: I knew you'd be good for a contrary opinion. But you know, I bet it'll be a damn good game.
Dave Cariello: You got that right.