It’s Week 14, and we’re back again with the Interview with the Enemy series. This week, the one and only Jeanna Thomas of The Falcoholic answers 5 quick questions about the upcoming matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons.
How important is this game for the rest of the season for the Falcons? Is this viewed as a must-win to try to get into the playoffs or would the Falcons still be sitting pretty at 7-6?
This game is absolutely a must-win. The Falcons did themselves no favors by dropping that game to the Vikings last week, and those ridiculous losses to the Bills and the Dolphins are more acutely painful now. With Carolina a game ahead and the Saints looking like an actual good team, the Falcons have to pull this off or the playoffs are probably off the table.
Was last year just an aberration for Matt Ryan? His 2016 MVP year saw career highs across the board, but the previous years stats didn't seem to indicate an upward trend. Now in 2017, his stats look to go back to career norms. Who is the real Matt Ryan: what we saw in 2016, or what we've seen every other year?
Nobody thought last year's numbers were sustainable, unless they were just wishfully thinking. But Ryan's stats put him consistently near the top of the league. His stats generally put him right around the top five, and he only finished outside of the top 10 in his rookie season and 2009, a year that he missed some time with turf toe. The 2015 and 2016 seasons were outliers at the opposite ends of the spectrum and we're seeing sort of a regression to the mean this season. But the addition of Steve Sarkisian has also been a factor, and Ryan will probably take a step forward again next year with another offseason in his system and the comfort level that goes along with that.
How are the Falcons Linebackers in coverage of Running Backs on routes out of the backfield? Drew Brees has been able to lean on screens and quick passes to both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, but that has largely been due to struggles from opposing teams in running with either back in man coverage.
It's been a mixed bag. Guys like Deion Jones and Devondre Campbell have the speed to handle it, but they're a little inconsistent. That said, Ingram and especially Kamara are terribly hard to defend.
Which player that Saints fans might not have heard of do you expect to make an impact in this game?
I'd have to go with nickelback Brian Poole, provided he's healthy enough to play. He's good in coverage and run support and he's been known to pull off the occasional corner blitz. He missed last week's game, along with Desmond Trufant, and that's definitely part of the reason the Falcons lost.
Final predictions for the game? Score?
Gah, I feel disgusting saying this. But I think the Saints take this one. It makes me miserable. I'm guessing 27-24 and I'm probably going to be very mad online about it.
Thank-you, Jeanna, for taking the time to answer our questions (even though you took the easy way out and picked the Saints to win). Saints fans, make sure you check out Jeanna and the work the rest of the writers are doing over at The Falcoholic. You can follow Jeanna on Twitter @jeannathomas and The Falcoholic @TheFalcohlic, and as always you can follow me @dunnellz.