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Scouting the Saints 2015 Schedule: Week 6 vs. Atlanta Falcons

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Week 6 of the 2015 schedule brings hated division rival Atlanta to town. It would bode well for the Saints to come into this game focused and no less that 4 wins under their belts. A new regime for the Falcons could spice this series up, let's hope the pendulum still swings in the Saints favor in the end!

A lot of bad blood in this series!
A lot of bad blood in this series!
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints face the Atlanta Falcons in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Thursday, October 15th. This game will represent the third division game of the season and could prove to be a must win if the Saints intend to compete for a division title 2015

Series Match-up All-Time

Saints  42 - Falcons 46

Last 10 Games

(2013-2014) Saints 14, Falcons 30 @ N.O. - Saints 34, Falcons 37 @ ATL

(2013-2014) Saints 17, Falcons 13 @ ATL - Saints 23, Falcons 17 @ N.O.

(2012-2013) Saints 13, Falcons 23 @ ATL - Saints 31, Falcons 27 @N.O.

(2011-2012) Saints 45, Falcons 16 @ N.O. - Saints 26, Falcons 23 @ ATL

(2010-2011) Saints 17, Falcons 14 @ ATL - Saints 27, Falcons 24 @ N.O.

This heated rivalry dates back to November of 1967 when the Saints won 27-24 in New Orleans. While the Falcons hold the advantage in series wins, the Saints have swung the moment over the last decade and narrowed the W-L gap. The Falcons have the edge in the lone playoff match and 5-2 advantage in overtime games. The Saints have a 3-1 edge in preseason contest and 5-1 record on Monday Night Football against Atlanta.

2014-2015 Falcons Totals

(Saints #1 total offense, #31 total defense according to ESPN)

Total Offense #  8

Passing/YPG #  5

Rushing/YPG #  24

Total Defense #  32

Passing/YPG #  32

Rushing/YPG #  21

Projected Rosters


Saints

Falcons


Offense

QB

Drew Brees

Matt Ryan


Luke McCown

TJ Yates


Garrett Grayson

Sean Renfree

RB

Mark Ingram

Devonta Freeman

CJ Spiller

Tevin Coleman


Khiry Robinson

Antone Smith

WR

Brandin Cooks

Julio Jones


Marques Colston

Roddy White


Brandon Coleman

Leonard Hankerson

TE

Benjamin Watson

Jacob Tamme

Josh Hill

Tony Moeaki

LT

Terron Armstead

Jake Matthews

LG

Tim Lelito

Chris Chester

C

Max Unger

Joe Hawley

RG

Jahri Evans

John Asamoah

RT

Zach Strief

Ryan Scraeder


Defense

LDE

Akiem Hicks

Kroy Bierman

NT/LDT

Kevin Williams

Ra'Shede Hageman

NT/RDT

Tyeler Davison (4-3)
Paul Soliai

RDE

Cam Jordan

Adrian Clayborn

LOLB

Hau'oli Kikaha

Brooks Reed

LILB

Stephone Anthony

Paul Worrilow

RILB

Dannell Ellerbe (3-4)

ROLB

Anthony Spencer

Vic Beasley

LCB

Keenan Lewis

Desmond Trufant

RCB

Brandon Browner

Robert Alford

NCB

Delvin Breaux

Jalen Collins

SS

Kenny Vaccaro

William Moore

FS

Jairus Byrd

Charles Godfrey


Special Teams

K

Dustin Hopkins

Matt Bryant

P

Thomas Morstead

Matt Bosher

Key Falcons

Offense

Matt Ryan - Ryan is a good quarterback, simple and plain. Regardless of what he's done in the playoffs, he's still a good player. Unfortunately for Ryan, he often lacks the killer instinct that would catapult him into upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks. This team has an explosive offense when Ryan has time to throw and his targets are healthy. Facing Ryan twice per season is quite a task for any defense and the Saints revamped secondary will be challenged in both games in 2015.

Julio Jones -Unlike his quarterback, Jones is already considered an upper echelon wide receiver in this league. However, recent injuries have assisted in sliding him to the back of that pack. Jones is a combination of size, speed, and athleticism which represents a mismatch more often than not. When healthy, Jones is consistent and is a focal point of the offense. The Saints will need to take advantage of the physicality of newcomers Brandon Browner and Delvin Breaux to disrupt the timing between Jones and his QB.

The Offensive Line - The truth about offensive line play is that it's critical for every team to have offensive success. The Falcons are a clear example of high offensive potential that underwhelms because the line can't hold up. Injuries can excuse some of the issues, but the remaining players were just bad. If the Falcons expect success against the Saints in this one, they'd better protect Ryan and hope the Saints run defense is still a work in progress.

Defense

Vic Beasley - The Falcons are very aware that they need to get better on defense. In a division where passing is the norm, pass rushers are important defensive cogs. Beasley was selected with the 8th pick in the 2015 draft after becoming the record holder for the most sacks in Clemson history. While this a very good thing for Atlanta, it is probably the only good thing as Beasley does not do much besides rush the passer. He may not be much help in run defense, another sore spot for the Falcons.

Desmond Trufant & Robert Alford - As much as I hate to admit it, the Falcons have a chair of good, young cornerbacks in Alford and Trufant. Do they get beat? Yes. Do they make QBs pay for testing them? Yes. Ask Drew Brees! Both players athletic and compact with sub-4.4 speed, traits that will favor them against the Saints shifty Brandin Cooks. Even Marques Colston has had a few troubles against these guys. Brandon Coleman could potential return the favor by physically out matching either CB, but he's on the rise and both CBs have established themselves in the league. Brees may be working behind his best offensive line in a few years, which should allow him to truly work on the young CB duo.

TL;DR

Lovable loser (ish) Mike Smith is gone and Dan Quinn is in as Falcons Head Coach. On his way out, Smitty pulled off a eason sweep of Sean Payton and the Saints, fueling this season's games with more hatred. With Quiin and Payton going head to head for the first time, I expect both coaches to be vanilla yet aggressive in play calling. Each will attempt to gauge the other until late in the game when nerves of steel will prevail. Who will flinch first? Payton will be true to himself and play the wolf, pushing the envelope and attacking the Falcons. We'll soon see if Quinn is a hunter like Payton or the hunted like Smith. I'm looking forward to the latter and a table-turning season sweep of the Falcons in 2015!

Feedback on depth chart and other bits of information to include in this series is appreciated.