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Keys to Success: Saints stars will have to come out to play in Falcons rematch

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Can the six Saints Pro Bowl representatives all show up and make big plays against the Falcons on Sunday?

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Your New Orleans Saints just sent 6 players to the Pro Bowl!

Cam Jordan, Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Marshon Lattimore All made the cut via Tuesday’s announcement, and they’ll ALL need to play major roles vs. Atlanta.

Thomas, for instance, has roasted the Falcons for a total of 27 catches 344 yards and 3 TDs in three exhibitions. They don’t really match-up well against “Can’t Guard Mike”, who has strength/size combination that’s hard for their undersized DBs to handle.

Kamara and Ingram? Meh, they’re just in the business of breaking records and making history. Combined they’ve accounted for 2,756 yards from scrimmage and 23 touchdowns on the way to becoming the first running back duo to make the Pro Bowl in over 42 years.

Cam Jordan is only the highest graded DE, per PFF, and has comparable pass defense statistics to teammate Ken Crawley, boasting 11 deflections and 1 INT on the year. That’s to go along with 10 sacks and 13 TFL. Want another crazy statistic (shout to Rev for this one)? Jordan has more pass deflections than 332 safeties and cornerbacks in the NFL. Only 21 other DBs have as many or more.

Meanwhile, leader and field general Drew Brees is completing 71.8% of his passes, good for tops in the league. Despite a few untimely INTs, he’s playing as well as some of the top quarterbacks again and has been efficient as he’s been at any point of his career.

Finally, you’ve got rookie sensation Marshon Lattimore, who some would say had a draw versus Julio Jones two weeks ago. I disagree and point out that while Lattimore gave up a couple plays, Jones never scored and Lattimore forced an INT. It should also be noted that Lattimore was returning from an ankle injury, but wasn’t quite in game shape and should be more than ready for the rematch.

All of the guys above are either the building blocks or the glue that holds this team together, and I look for all of them to make their fair share of plays on Sunday against the Falcons. Here are this week’s Keys to Success.

Protect the Football

The Saints can’t afford to have another two turnover game against the Falcons because unlike Bryce Petty, Matt Ryan will capitalize. No sleight of hand to Boonk Gang, but that’s possibly a 10-point swing if put into a bad position by the offense. They need to find a way to get back to what they were doing the first three weeks of the season when they weren’t shooting themselves in the big toe. At this point, they should collectively look down at their boot, and it should resemble an infamous scene from I’m Gonna Git You Sucka!

Can’t Allow the Big Play

If there was ever a game the Saints needed to be sound in their run fits, it’s this one. They cannot allow Ren and Stimpy Atlanta’s RB duo to gash them for big yards in the ground game. The defense is entering this game having taken hits at every level of the defense in recent weeks (Kenny Vaccaro, A.J. Klein, Alex Okafor), and their depth will be tested. Limiting Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman on early downs should put Matt Ryan and company behind the chains, aiding their quest to get off the field quickly on 3rd down.

Gameplan to Run the Chris Rock

AP

After Sunday’s grudge match, I don’t want to hear Sean Payton explaining that the game unfolded in a way that didn’t allow them to run the ball like they wanted to. I’d prefer him have to explain why Brees threw for the lowest total of the season in a win that saw both Ingram and Kamara go for over 100 yards from scrimmage. The Falcons have a small front 7, and the Saints have an O-line that’s not afraid to maul you. They need to lean on it Sunday and help protect the defense by sustaining drives and converting 3rd downs.

Player to Watch - Andrus Peat, G

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

The Saints No. 1 pick in 2015 has been out of commission the last few weeks with an abdominal issue, but appears set to return on Sunday against the Falcons. The things the Saints do with he and Terron Armstead on the left side of their line to open up the running game are a thing of beauty. Seeing Peat pull and get down field to destroy an opponent has been missing lately, and I can’t wait to see him get out in front of a screen and engulf Deion Jones as Kamara cruises by on the way to a TD.

Random Thought I: Not sure If I like Payton being humble and apologizing for the choking gesture right now. Perhaps it’s reverse psychology? Make the Falcons think it’s all rose petals and phoenix wings and then proceed to put the proverbial foot on their necks Sunday in the Dome.

Random Thought II: Kenny Vaccaro’s season is over. Could we be getting a preview of how the secondary may look without his presence next year?

We are currently a couple days away from getting our revenge Who Dat’s, and time isn’t quite passing quickly enough. Is this a statement game? Likely not, more like an explanation point that big brother is back. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to beat Atlanta in the last three tries, but that trend comes to a screeching halt on Sunday. If you are going to be in the Dome for the rematch, I’m requesting that you prepare yourself to be without a voice on Monday morning. It needs to be loud, and there needs to be energy for this team to feed off. Let’s help make this a W so that we can start evening out the historical record that currently sits in favor of ATL 51-45. Should be 51-46 when the game clock strikes 0:00. Who Dat!