The last time these two teams met, the Falcons won 24-15 in a game where they rushed for 228 yards on 5.6 yards per carry. This time around, the Saints defense has been playing much better, and I think they have a good chance of shutting down this Falcons offense.
The Falcons offense is one of the worst in the league in terms of points per game. They average 19 PPG, which ranks 26th in the league. However, in their last three games, the Falcons are scoring just 17.7 PPG.
Desmond Ridder is still QB1 for the Falcons in this game. In the first meeting, Ridder threw for 168 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. On the year, Ridder has been very lackluster, throwing for 2,545 yards, 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 14 games. He’s been benched and renamed the starter, and he’s proven he’s not much of a threat with his arm.
Receiving wise, the only Falcons wide out who could cause an issue is Drake London. In 15 games, London has caught 65 passes for 864 yards and two touchdowns. Outside of him, the next best receiver they have is Mac Hollins, who’s caught 18 balls for 251 yards.
Their main receiving threats outside of London are their tight ends, Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith. Both tight ends have between 550-650 yards this season and have combined for five touchdowns. The last time they played, the Saints did a great job of limiting Pitts to two catches and 22 yards, but we all know they’ve had their struggles defending tight ends this season.
On the ground, the Falcons have been one of the best rushing teams in the NFL. They’re eighth in the league with 130 yards per game but have actually regressed since last season despite adding Bijan Robinson to the mix. In the last meeting, the Falcons ran for 228 yards behind strong performances from Robinson and Tyler Allgeier. They key to slowing this offense down is stopping the run game. If they can hold them to 130 yards or less, they should be able to stop Ridder enough to win this game.
The Saints’ defense has been getting out of their slump. Obviously the Panthers and Giants games didn’t tell us much, but the fact that they held one of the hottest offenses in the league in Tampa Bay to 13 points should tell us something.
I think the Saints defense should be able to have a good outing against the Falcons. If they can keep playing ball at the same level, they have been the last three weeks, there’s no reason the Falcons should score more than 20 points.
Divisional games can get weird, so I’m not counting anything out, but I don’t think this game will go the same way the first matchup did.