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Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints: Three things to watch

The Falcons are on the road for their first shot at the Saints this season. What are three things they need to do in order to keep the streak alive?

Scott Cunningham

New Orleans have had a season wracked by controversy, and derailed by a terrible start-- five losses later it may be too much to overcome, but the Saints are a dangerous team who could legitimately threaten the Falcons' undefeated record. What are the three things Atlanta needs to do in order to diffuse the high-flying Saints?

1. Collapse the pocket

The Saints' offensive line has only allowed 15 sacks this season, and when coupled with Drew Brees' quick release you have another season where the New Orleans QB is on pace for over 5,000 yards.

The Atlanta Falcons have too heavily relied on John Abraham and Jonathan Babineux to be their pass rush. The two account for over half the Falcons' sacks, and as a result teams are scheming against them. Last week against Dallas the Cowboys found a way to diffuse him, and fighting injury this week is a major concern. The Falcons have to find a way of pushing linemen back into the pocket, and quickly.

2. Put down the pedal

Matt Ryan and the Falcons' offense have a huge opportunity to go wild on the Saints' defense, without fear of retribution. There is a good chance Sunday's game could become a shootout, and New Orleans are allowing over 470 yards per game, and near 30 points.

This is a team who have won three of their last four games due to their offense, and at times Dirk Koetter has played a safe offensive game. This week he can't, and it's a prime chance for Roddy White and Julio Jones to get theirs.

3. Go back to what you know

One of the reasons the Atlanta Falcons have been so effective in 2012 is due to a balanced offense that emphasizes less on Michael Turner, and more on the stellar group of receivers.

This week is time for Mike Smith's team to throw back to what they've known over the past few years, and lean on Michael Turner. The play action pass is something Matt Ryan works so well out of, and with the Saints giving up a league-high 176 yards per game on the ground, and allowing over five yards per carry.

Last week Turner ran all over the Cowboys, and this could be even better. By keeping the ball on the ground it will keep New Orleans' offense off the field, and help grind out the clock.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.