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Interview with the Enemy: Falcons defense limping into Week 3

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Our friend Jeanna Thomas of the Falcons joins us for Falcons Hate Week.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s football time, folks, and we’re back again with the Interview with the Enemy series. Now the games actually count! This week, our BFF, Jeanna Thomas, of The Falcoholic answers 5 quick questions about our week three matchup against our hated divisional rival Atlanta Falcons.

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The Falcons were able to bounce back in a big away against the Panthers after a heart-breaking loss to the Eagles to open the season. What was the biggest difference in the Falcons from Week 1 to Week 2?

The biggest difference for the Falcons was their red zone performance. In Week 1 against the Eagles, they managed to score on just one of five trips to the red zone. They hit on 100% of their red zone trips against the Panthers. Not surprisingly, it helps when they actually put points on the board.

What can we expect out of Tevin Coleman and the Falcons running game in Week 3?

The success of Atlanta’s offense during the 2016 season was built on spreading the ball around. With Devonta Freeman out, the bulk of the workload should fall to Coleman, who can be a problem for defenses as a runner and as a receiver. Hopefully we see Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith heavily involved in the game plan like Steve Sarkisian did against the Panthers. Both stood out against a stout Panthers defensive front, so I think the opportunities will be there against the Saints on Sunday.

How has the Falcons defense made up for the losses of Keanu Neal and Deion Jones?

t took me a long time to answer this question, because the answer just makes me sad. They haven’t, and I don’t think they can. There’s nobody on the roster or available as a free agent right now who even comes close to Neal’s talent, instincts, or hard-hitting style at the strong safety position. Deion Jones has a history of ruining Drew Brees’ day on the regular, and his speed and athleticism make him a perfect fit in the middle for Atlanta’s defensive scheme. Duke Riley is a liability in the middle and may see fewer snaps against the Saints because of it. Damontae Kazee was ejected, rightfully, for a helmet-to-helmet late hit on Cam Newton, and having him on the field against New Orleans’ passing attack should help. We’re all hopefully we’ll see Jones back on the field around Week 10, but in the meantime, this defense is probably going to keep my blood pressure up on Sunday afternoons.

Who is one Falcon Saints fans might not be familiar with that you expect to make an impact in this game?

I’d keep an eye on Wes Schweitzer at the left guard position. Saints fans may remember him from last season, when he held the starting right guard role and frankly wasn’t always great at it. He filled in for an injured Andy Levitre for part of last Sunday’s win over the Panthers, and he played well. His play on Sunday could make or break the Falcons’ offensive performance.

What’s your prediction for the game? Final score?

I think this is going to be a hard-fought, close game that will probably go down to the wire and make me want to drink every alcoholic beverage in my immediate vicinity -- so basically a classic Saints-Falcons matchup. I think the Falcons pull off a very tight win at home, 27-24.

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A big thanks to Jeanna for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure you check out her work and the rest of the good folks at The Falcoholic for tons of Falcons content. You can follow Jeanna on Twitter @jeannathomas, The Falcoholic @TheFalcoholic, and of course you can always follow me @dunnellz.