There are always certain players that seem to give specific teams trouble, despite the fact that they might be otherwise be a mediocre player to the rest of the league. In some cases, the player might be a Pro Bowl caliber player, but they just take it to another level against particular opponents.
The trend of elite quarterbacks — which Ryan is — dominating divisional opponents continues with the Saints. Against New Orleans, Matt Ryan has racked up 523 completions on 797 attempts for 6,354 yards, 39 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions. While his 51 big-time throws lead all quarterbacks in the matchup by 21, his 11 turnover-worthy plays are fewer than fellow NFC South quarterback Cam Newton (12).
The New Orleans Saints are well-represented in Pro Football Focus’s piece, though. With the Atlanta Falcons, the sword cuts both ways, as Michael Thomas has already established himself as a Falcon-roaster:
Since entering the league three years ago, Thomas has risen to a place among the top wide receivers in the NFL, and he has proven to be a thorn in the Falcons’ side in the process. Across six games, Thomas has brought in 45-of-57 targets against Atlanta for 577 yards. He’s been particularly efficient operating in traffic, bringing in 9 of his 12 contested targets and forcing nine missed tackles after the catch.
Another New Orleans Saints player shows up on the list, this time to another NFC South rival. Drew Brees is the quintessential Kitty Tamer:
Since PFF began charting games in 2006, Brees has picked apart the Panthers’ defense, just as he has done against most of the league on his march up the record books. In total, he has completed 640-of-948 attempts for 7,079 yards, 46 touchdowns and 21 interceptions against Carolina over that span. His passing grade of 90.9 ranks second among 19 quarterbacks with 100 or more attempts against the Panthers.
In case you’re curious, the remaining NFC South team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have an odd name listed as their “team killer:”
Mack has been a model of consistency over his career. In ten seasons, he has played 900-plus snaps in all but one, while grading at 74.0 or higher each year. Against the Buccaneers, Mack has been at his best. In seven career games against Tampa Bay, Mack has picked up a pass-blocking grade of 84.0 and a run-blocking grade of 92.2.
Rob Gronkowski shows up on the list twice (Broncos and Steelers) and Aaron Donald shows up a whopping three times (the entire NFC West - 49ers, Seahawks, and Cardinals). Basically, Aaron Donald is just a cheat code at this point.