Despite being only two weeks into the 2016 NFL season, Week 3 figures to a be a must-win game for the New Orleans Saints (0-2). Their NFC South rival, the Atlanta Falcons (1-1) enter to do battle on the 10-year anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s reopening. Here’s five players that have to deliver in order to bring a Saints victory.
Don’t blame Mark Ingram for his low numbers two games into the season, as the Saints have only got him the ball 26 total times. However, Ingram’s made the most of it. He’s totaled 88 yards and averaged 4.2 yards per carry on the ground, and has added 46 yards on six receptions. The Saints offensive game plan has been heavily centered around passing, but they desperately need to find some balance.
The good news is that Ingram has had five rushing touchdowns in the past three games against the Falcons, and should be a key part of this team getting a win on Monday night.
No Terron Armstead means that Andrus Peat could be playing offensive lineman shuffle again and heading to left tackle. Even if Peat doesn’t move there and stays at left guard, look for the Falcons defensive line to load more personnel to that side of the ball. Peat’s name hasn’t been called much, aside the special teams woes from last week, so that’s been encouraging. Through two games, Peat has been showing signs of improvement, and he has to continue his upward trend.
One would expect that Sterling Moore will be tasked with guarding Julio Jones. In the past four matchups against the Saints, Jones has seen targets of 9, 8, 10, and 11 in each contest and three of those games have resulted in 100-yard performances. For a player that came ‘off the streets’, Moore did an adequate job guarding against Odell Beckham Jr. in Week 2.
If the Saints can continue to build upon their pass rush from last week, then that could take some off of Moore’s plate, but this is Matt Ryan we’re talking about, and he’ll undoubtedly try to get the ball out as fast as possible.
The first two games have been absolutely disappointing for tight end Coby Fleener, but maybe a date with the Falcons on the big stage is exactly what the doctor ordered. There’s no question that Drew Brees hasn’t been on the same page with the free agent tight end, but he’s completely confident that Fleener will become a bigger part of the Saints offense.
Fleener has certainly seen his fair share of targets from Brees, and that shouldn’t change. He has to convert those opportunities into results, and the Falcons defense have allowed tight ends to find success thus far.
Another player that’s had a rocky start is rookie kicker Wil Lutz, and it’s time for redemption. Lutz has proven that he has a strong leg, but the reality is that he’s 4-for-7 on the season. He’s been perfect on extra points (5-for-5), and aside the block, he’s missed two field goals from 50 yards or more. Lutz will certainly get the call to put points on the board for the Saints, and he needs to convert said opportunities to make us believers on why Sean Payton made the decision to go with him.