The Saints have a chance to avenge a loss from three weeks ago with a Thanksgiving night game against the Atlanta Falcons. Three weeks ago at home the Saints got punched in the mouth as they took a struggling Atlanta team for granted, and paid big time for it. The offensive line gave up 6 sacks to the worst pass rush in the NFL at the time, and the offense failed to generate anything by committing penalties and not committing to the run to offset the pass rush. On a day where in most other aspects of the game the Saints won, they were dominated on the score board 26-9, at home none the less. In order to not repeat these mistakes the battle between the offensive and defensive line for both teams needs to be the area that the Saints target in order to not fall to the Falcons twice in a year.
Saints offensive line v Atlanta defensive line
Let’s first start with what killed the Saints three weeks ago. The Falcons d-line had a field day in the Saints backfield as they got to Drew six times, and were in his face quite a lot more than that. The first game-plan should be to continue running the ball where the Saints have had good success all year when they decide to commit to it. Somewhat strangely though, despite having a ton of success, Sean and the play-calling have not seemed content sticking with that. With Terron expected to miss this game especially, the Saints need to run to that ride side, attack Vic Beasley and let the best Right Tackle in football in Ryan Ramczyk knock him down over and over. That will slow the ability of the Falcons to rush the passer and help Omameh not be overwhelmed on the backside. Running the ball often will set up play-action, which the Saints can then use to target Atlanta’s worst spot on their defense in the secondary. Also I am still looking for the Saints to use the two backs like they did so often last year and let AK lineup and abuse one of the bad corners of the Falcons. Let Latavius pound the ball and then use him to get the Falcons defense thinking run and hit the big plays that at times this year have been lacking. If the Saints offensive line can be smart and not commit penalties, then there is no reason that the Saints should lose this game.
Saints defensive line vs Atlanta offensive line
The area that the Saints should have no problem with is the d-line stopping the run and getting to the passer. The Saints d-line has been one of the best in football this year all around according to PFF led by the wonderful Cam Jordan at 82.7 and in the middle by Sheldon, whose PFF grade is fairly harsh at 59.8, which in my opinion is a bit misleading. We all know Demario at the second level has been a machine and the d-line taking their gaps and filling those holes allows him and Co to fly to the ball and neutralize the run. Also the pass rush has been good again this year as Cam Jordan also leads the way with 10 sacks and the defense as a whole has generated the 7th most pressure according to PFF. Marcus Davenport continuing to develop has been big as well as he has 4 sacks but could probably have more. His pressure on the opposite side of Cam has been big as teams can not double Cam Jordan, which leads to a 1v1 and usually Cam Jordan will win that both in the run game and pass game. As for Atlanta offensive line they have been one of the worst pass blocking teams again this year coming in at a 61.7 on PFF. They has also been in the bottom ten of run blocking at a putrid 53.0 which is 9th worst in the NFL.
The Saints have a big advantage in both offensive and defensive line but their inability to take their opposition seriously cost them at home 3 weeks ago, so they need to use that as motivation to make a point that it was simply a fluke and not a habit. If they commit to running the ball and continuing to get pressure and stop the run, they should avoid their mistakes of 3 weeks ago, and lock up the NFC South just in time to look forward to their huge #1 seed implications against the 49ers.